The first week back at school saw the PNBHS Premier Basketball team kicking off the busy term by travelling to Wellington for the traditional Wellington College Exchange. The Capital greeted us with the perfect day, creating a positive vibe for the mid-day tip-off.
A few members of the team were nursing recent injuries but there was confidence in the camp that we had the depth and stamina to get the job done.
The first quarter saw Wellington capitalising on home-court advantage – playing with speed and shooting well. Hill, their captain, proved to be a solid shot on the boundary as well as at the rim. The rest of their starting 5 proved to be able to do the same, keeping our boys playing deficit ball and appearing to take some time to come out of the blocks. Midway through the first quarter, Griffyn scored a beautiful 3-point shot that seemed to be the inspiration our boys needed to lift their game. Our boys were beginning to communicate better, look for better opportunities in terms of passing, and tighten up on defence applying good pressure – forcing mistakes resulting in turn over ball. The end of the first quarter had Wellington College ahead 26 – 24
A slow start was something this team had been working hard to avoid, but it appeared that there was still a bit of dust to shake off from the break and the bus trip. The energy needed to pick up and so did the intent. Communicate, look up, apply pressure and engage in the game.
Cooper opened the 2nd quarter with a beautiful boundary shot. Matt Foss took to the court as a force to be reckoned with both on defence and offence through the mid-court, soon adding another 2 to the score. A purposeful drive from Kaleb saw him draw a foul and successfully shoot the free throws. Matt added another 3 from a well-timed boundary shot. Maraki made his mark on court as he applied his speed and agility to leave his opponent with little room to move. His shooting was also on point, securing 6 points during his time in the quarter, with Kaleb and Kalem adding 4 a-piece and Cooper a further 4. Ezra took no time at all making his presence felt on court on defence, using every inch of long limbs to become the cone in the road for the Wellington offence, and lifting the level of communication on court. Wellington’s Hill, McRae and Rodgers were their dominant shooters, and our boys did need to get a better handle on them – particularly on the boundary and at the rim to eliminate second-chance shots. The tables appeared to be turning with the half-time score in our favour at 41 - 50.
The third quarter was the perfect time to take advantage of the fitness in the team by increasing the intensity to move the ball and force our opposition to run harder. Kairangi and Ezra secured the rebounds well while Kaleb, Kalem and Maraki applied the speed. As the minutes progressed, Tamatea took to the court to provide additional speed as the opposition began to tire. The lead in the quarter stretched out as much as 20 points, with Kalem putting away a couple of 3 pointers in addition to 3 lay-ups, and Kaleb securing 10 points. Rodger’s boundary shots were on point in the third, allowing Wellington to chip away at the lead to claw back to within 10 near the end of the third. We were heading into the final quarter ahead, with the score at 62 – 75 with Maraki and Kairangi adding the 3 further points.
The final quarter was about finishing strong, giving the opposition few opportunities, and getting the job done. Rodgers continued to be the dominant shooter for Wellington, who punished us at the boundary and at the rim with any space we gave him. Jordan and Ezra set out in the final minutes to use their height effectively on the boards as Tamatea, Matt and Dane worked to move the ball down the court but neither team was giving anything away. In the final quarter, our boys managed to add a final 20 points to our scoreline to Wellington’s 14, with the score at the final buzzer being 95 – 76 to PNBHS.
Our boys were happy to come away with the win but know that we have bodies to take care of and reflection to do, looking forward to our Super 8 tournament in Hamilton next week.
We would like to thank Wellington College for being welcoming hosts, rewarding the efforts of all staff and students with a substantial afternoon tea. We would also like to thank our supporters from near and far, and of course, our sponsors, Skafit, Property Brokers, Proegear, and Insurance & Mortgage Networks.