AN IMPRESSIVE first term has set the Whai up for an eight-point victory over Mainland Pouakai to complete Round 1 of the new Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa last night. The Whai were coming off a loss from Saturday night against Tokomanawa Queens, while the Pouakai had toppled Southern Hoiho on opening night last Wednesday. Though the Pouakai made a game of it, particularly in the second quarter, they were unable to catch the Whai, with the home side winning, 74-66 at Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre.
WHAI 23 | 14 | 19 | 18 (74)
POUAKAI 13 | 16 | 21 | 16 (66)
Tipping off the game, both sides had their chances, with the teams trading leads four times before the home team – like so many before in front of their fans – took control late in the term. After Tessa Boagni nailed a triple midway through the first term, Pouakai lead by that exact score to be 12-9 up. But from that point on, the home team rallied to score 14 of the next 16 points, with Kyra Lambert (seven points) and Sharne Robati (five) stepping up in the first term.
The Whai extended the lead out to double-digits fairly quickly, but eight consecutive points from the Whai – including a triple from Erin Whalen – reduced it back to five. Lambert and Esra McGoldrick were stepping up for the home team, whilst Trinity Baptiste was digging deep for the Pouakai. The visitors had drawn within four points at the 2:24 mark of the team thanks to a Gabriella Fotu long-range jumper, but the last two baskets of the term went the way of Robati and Dominique McBryde for the Whai to double that back out to eight points.
Pouakai put it beyond double-digits early in the third term despite the best efforts of Baptiste, as the Pouakai shooter’s impact was matched by that of Lambert and McBryde, as the Whai lead blew out to 17 points midway through the quarter. Nine consecutive points back the way of the Pouakai made it a more manageable total, with Cierra Walker (five) running hot in that streak. The last two jump shots to the Whai – through Baptiste and Tsubasa Nisbet – cut the final break deficit back to six.
If there were any doubts of the Whai’s ability to finish the game off, they were quickly snuffed out as Lambert and Sheniqua Greene combined to put the advantage back out to double-digits in the first 90 seconds. Both teams traded blows with Baptiste and Walker both hitting long-range attempts, but ultimately they could not get closer than seven points, with the Whai winning the quarter 18-16, and the match, 74-66.
Lambert lead the Whai’s scoring with 20 points – two from six from long-range – six assists, four rebounds and two steals, as one of four players with double-digits points tallies. Greene (12 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and three blocks) notched up a double-double, while McBryde (12 points, nine rebounds, six steals and three blocks) and Robati (15 points, three rebounds) also stood up in the win. For the Pouakai it was a one-player shooting display with Baptiste knocking down 29 points – 10 of 13 from the field – eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. Lauryn Hippolite (nine points, three rebounds and three assists), Walker (eight points, four assists and three rebounds) and Whalen (eight points, six rebounds) were the other standouts in defeat.