Whai find sting to dethrone Queens

AFTER a shock loss to the previously winless Southern Hoiho the night before, Mid-North Whai bounced back in the best way possible, defeating a fast-finishing Tokomanawa Queens by eight points. The Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa Round 4 match saw the Whai take control through the first half, but be challenged late, only for the visitors to rally and get the job done at Te Rauparaha Arena, 78-70.

TOKOMANAWA QUEENS 13 | 15 | 18 | 24 (70)
MID-NORTH WHAI 23 | 22 | 18 | 15 (78)

Both sides came into the clash with three wins, in what was a mid-table classic. The Queens hoped to jump the determined Whai, who were hellbent on turning around their form following that forgettable loss to the Hoiho on Sunday. The first term was the closest of the lot, with both sides having chances early, and the Queens even leading after three minutes, 8-6 courtesy of a Jamie Nared basket.

Florencia Chagas and Stella Beck had already drained triples in the early stages of the match, while Esra McGoldrick was the first to multiple baskets for the Whai. Though the Queens did hold the narrow lead, once Matangiroa Flavell answered with a long-range bomb a minute later, the Whai were in front and did not surrender the lead for the rest of the match.

The Whai piled on 17-5 in the final seven minutes of the first term, with Flavell and McGoldrick joined by Kyra Lambert, Sheniqua Greene and Sharne Robati. The momentum from that term carried into the second quarter with the Whai scoring 22-15 to lead by 17 at half-time. Lead by Lambert (seven points) and Robati (six), the Whai started to build a strong lead. That only grew in the third quarter, with a triple from Jacinta Beckley in the opening minute cutting the deficit to 14, only for the Whai to piled on the next 10 points and put it out to a 24-point buffer. Each Queens basket was issued with a Whai response and some more, but a late And-One chance to Chagas reduced the final break deficit back to 17 points, with both sides having scored 18 in the third term.

The early stages of the fourth term saw the Whai maintain a pretty strong advantage, as a Flavell triple with six and a half minutes left putting the visitors 70-52 up. Then came the Queens charge. Chagas immediately responded with a long-range basket herself, with Beck and Elin Gustavsson joining the party, and then four consecutive points from Nared cut the deficit back to seven points with three minutes remaining. Lambert hit a steadier rom beyond the arc, but the Queens kept coming, with Beck responding with back-to-back layups, then Chagas doing the same, copping the McGoldrick foul and her successful And-One chance made it just three points with 65 seconds on the clock.

Yet again Lambert saved the day, draining a triple at the 43-second mark, and then Chagas missed her own chance from beyond the arc, Lambert grabbed the defensive board, and worked it to Flavell who made the layup. Another three-point attempts went begging off Beck’s hand in the final 10 seconds, granting the Whai a well-deserved, if not nail-biting in the end, victory.

Lambert was outstanding with 22 points – at 72 per cent from the field – 12 rebounds and three steals, while Flavell (22 points, five assists and four rebounds) hit six of nine from long-range. Robati (15 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Greene (seven points, nine rebounds and four assists) contributed to the team’s cause. For the Queens, Chagas finished with 23 points – including five of 11 from range – and seven rebounds, as Nared (14 points, 11 rebounds and two steals) and Beck (14 points, eight rebounds and two assists) were the other key players for the losers.

Tokomanawa Queens next face Mainland Pouakai on Saturday, with Mid-North Whai locking horns with top of the table Northern Kahu the following day.

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