Big finals day ahead

CAPTAINS MEET: Finals day captains (from left) are Bronya McMenamin (Ngati Porou), Jayda Waititi-Leach (Lytton), Max Scott (Gisborne Boys’ High School Black) and Reggie Namana (Uawa). Picture by Liam Clayton

The YMCA has known some great days.

But perhaps no three — yes, three — finals in Gisborne Basketball Association history could inflame club passion as those taking place tomorrow night.

The largest crowd for a men’s grand final was that for the Celtics-Lytton High School game in 1997: perhaps 500 were there. Only crowds for interschool games approach that, and only the Rising Suns fandom ever surpassed it.

At 3.30pm, Genesis Bartlett-Tamatea’s Lytton go up against The Young and the Useless in the men’s B Grade final. The young portion of the latter includes the Noble brothers Jake and Rikki, Daley Riri, Oscar Ruston, Carew Fearnley and Manaia McGhee.

The older portion? Ray Noble, Anton Riri, Stefan Pishief and Quentin Harvey.

Pishief scored 21 points in the 69-56 semifinal win against Campion College.

Campion had Cooper Tattle, Nelson Brown and Tahran Ward, but at over 6ft 7in, Pishief outsized them.

The experience of Riri and the expertise of Noble told.

And so Lytton must be accurate. Where turnovers will hurt the YAU because getting back on defence is difficult, turnovers will also hurt Lytton in that once the ball goes into the post, Noble senior and co may look to grind them down.

Lytton must run. Although they come into the final off a default win against the High Flyers, ever since their 55-40 loss to GBHS Black on opening night, they have learned and grown by the game.

With the input of legendary Ritana Bulls coach Kahu Ripia, Lytton have played some thrilling basketball this season.

Although they lost an epic against Campion by one point (74-73 to the College), that game had it all.

“We’re keen to play in a final for the first time,” Bartlett-Tamatea said.

“I’m happy with how far the boys have come and how hard we’ve worked to be there.”

THIS has been Gisborne Boys’ High School’s best year in basketball since they last won the club championship.

The 2008 team of Ryan Walters were great to watch. In terms of individual talent, aside from Rangi Kowhai in the early 1990s and Hosea Gear from 1997 to 2001, the 2008 crew — Shaquille Hohipa-Wilson and Blade Thomson — were capable of amazing feats. They could be sensational.

And so, too, now are Max Scott’s GBHS Black unit in 2018. Gisborne Boys’ 74-66 victory against the Filthy Dozen was a golden game in the team’s season. Holden Wilson hit 10 three-point shots. Never before had any local high school player hit 10 three-pointers in a semifinal. The individual record remains with Kowhai: 50, in 1991. Gear had a 48-point game in 2000.

“I expect us to show up and prove that we deserve to be in the spot we’re in — let’s bring it home,” Scott said.

“We’ve got to be strong on the defensive boards, contain the guys we’re guarding and, most of all, no silly fouls.

“Offensively we need to speed the game up as much as possible: fast break every possession.”

Uawa court general Reggie Namana expects that approach. He was captain of the Celtics in 1997, and sparked that game to life with a ferocious dunk-shot.

Current GBHS head coach Dwayne Tamatea was Lytton’s player-coach that night. Perhaps no two figures in GBA history have their finger on the pulse of the game as these two men in the past 21 years.

“We have no Quentin Solomon, Rikki Crawford, Rik Kernohan, Harley Phillips: four main players are out,” said Namana, who faced a similar situation with Old School against City Lights in 2017.

“For Boys’ High, Sam Veitch dominates inside — and they can shoot. This year it’s been a pretty even league, with every team capable of winning on the night.”

GBHS have scoring threats both inside and outside the key, yet while Namana will have even more to do than he usually does, none should doubt he can do it. He is not one to be stopped by weak reach-in fouls by defenders unwilling to stand their ground. Players here — both in the men’s and women’s leagues — refuse to take the defensive charge.

At some stage, someone may have to fly backwards to get the call in their favour.

There is uncharted territory — and this is the equivalent of a new basketball continent.

Until 2017, no girls’ secondary school team had ever made — let alone won — the women’s club final.

In beating Campion 59-42, Lytton High School won the first all-high-school final and now, again under Jayda Waititi-Leach, they could make yet more history if they beat Ngati Porou to become the first college team to win consecutive club titles.

“We need to play hard defence, look for steals, drive the ball hard to the hoop,” 2017 women’s league MVP (most valuable player) Waititi-Leach.

“Ngati Porou are very competitive but I’m really proud of my team — how well we’ve played — and we’ve improved a lot this year.”

Ngati Porou captain, 2016 MVP Bronya McMenamin, will bring her team back for their first finals appearance in two years. They had been champions in 2014, 2015 and 2016 before being knocked out in the 2017 semi against Campion.

Campion won that night 43-35; Ngati Porou this year eliminated the Rebels. They scored 80-plus points. And if Tiara Weir scores 39 points or anything like it tomorrow, it will be too tough for Lytton. The younger team can win a close game — they are too smart to try to trade baskets with McMenamin and company.

A key member of that company is Atareta Mangu. She is quicksilver. If she is allowed to run, she can score 40 points in breakaway lay-ups.

The referees are —

Men’s grand final: Cliff Blumfield, Shay Waikawa.

Women’s final: Adrian Sparks, Amoe Tarsau.

Men’s B Grade final: Petra Sparks, David Glendenning.

The YMCA has known some great days.

But perhaps no three — yes, three — finals in Gisborne Basketball Association history could inflame club passion as those taking place tomorrow night.

The largest crowd for a men’s grand final was that for the Celtics-Lytton High School game in 1997: perhaps 500 were there. Only crowds for interschool games approach that, and only the Rising Suns fandom ever surpassed it.

At 3.30pm, Genesis Bartlett-Tamatea’s Lytton go up against The Young and the Useless in the men’s B Grade final. The young portion of the latter includes the Noble brothers Jake and Rikki, Daley Riri, Oscar Ruston, Carew Fearnley and Manaia McGhee.

The older portion? Ray Noble, Anton Riri, Stefan Pishief and Quentin Harvey.

Pishief scored 21 points in the 69-56 semifinal win against Campion College.

Campion had Cooper Tattle, Nelson Brown and Tahran Ward, but at over 6ft 7in, Pishief outsized them.

The experience of Riri and the expertise of Noble told.

And so Lytton must be accurate. Where turnovers will hurt the YAU because getting back on defence is difficult, turnovers will also hurt Lytton in that once the ball goes into the post, Noble senior and co may look to grind them down.

Lytton must run. Although they come into the final off a default win against the High Flyers, ever since their 55-40 loss to GBHS Black on opening night, they have learned and grown by the game.

With the input of legendary Ritana Bulls coach Kahu Ripia, Lytton have played some thrilling basketball this season.

Although they lost an epic against Campion by one point (74-73 to the College), that game had it all.

“We’re keen to play in a final for the first time,” Bartlett-Tamatea said.

“I’m happy with how far the boys have come and how hard we’ve worked to be there.”

THIS has been Gisborne Boys’ High School’s best year in basketball since they last won the club championship.

The 2008 team of Ryan Walters were great to watch. In terms of individual talent, aside from Rangi Kowhai in the early 1990s and Hosea Gear from 1997 to 2001, the 2008 crew — Shaquille Hohipa-Wilson and Blade Thomson — were capable of amazing feats. They could be sensational.

And so, too, now are Max Scott’s GBHS Black unit in 2018. Gisborne Boys’ 74-66 victory against the Filthy Dozen was a golden game in the team’s season. Holden Wilson hit 10 three-point shots. Never before had any local high school player hit 10 three-pointers in a semifinal. The individual record remains with Kowhai: 50, in 1991. Gear had a 48-point game in 2000.

“I expect us to show up and prove that we deserve to be in the spot we’re in — let’s bring it home,” Scott said.

“We’ve got to be strong on the defensive boards, contain the guys we’re guarding and, most of all, no silly fouls.

“Offensively we need to speed the game up as much as possible: fast break every possession.”

Uawa court general Reggie Namana expects that approach. He was captain of the Celtics in 1997, and sparked that game to life with a ferocious dunk-shot.

Current GBHS head coach Dwayne Tamatea was Lytton’s player-coach that night. Perhaps no two figures in GBA history have their finger on the pulse of the game as these two men in the past 21 years.

“We have no Quentin Solomon, Rikki Crawford, Rik Kernohan, Harley Phillips: four main players are out,” said Namana, who faced a similar situation with Old School against City Lights in 2017.

“For Boys’ High, Sam Veitch dominates inside — and they can shoot. This year it’s been a pretty even league, with every team capable of winning on the night.”

GBHS have scoring threats both inside and outside the key, yet while Namana will have even more to do than he usually does, none should doubt he can do it. He is not one to be stopped by weak reach-in fouls by defenders unwilling to stand their ground. Players here — both in the men’s and women’s leagues — refuse to take the defensive charge.

At some stage, someone may have to fly backwards to get the call in their favour.

There is uncharted territory — and this is the equivalent of a new basketball continent.

Until 2017, no girls’ secondary school team had ever made — let alone won — the women’s club final.

In beating Campion 59-42, Lytton High School won the first all-high-school final and now, again under Jayda Waititi-Leach, they could make yet more history if they beat Ngati Porou to become the first college team to win consecutive club titles.

“We need to play hard defence, look for steals, drive the ball hard to the hoop,” 2017 women’s league MVP (most valuable player) Waititi-Leach.

“Ngati Porou are very competitive but I’m really proud of my team — how well we’ve played — and we’ve improved a lot this year.”

Ngati Porou captain, 2016 MVP Bronya McMenamin, will bring her team back for their first finals appearance in two years. They had been champions in 2014, 2015 and 2016 before being knocked out in the 2017 semi against Campion.

Campion won that night 43-35; Ngati Porou this year eliminated the Rebels. They scored 80-plus points. And if Tiara Weir scores 39 points or anything like it tomorrow, it will be too tough for Lytton. The younger team can win a close game — they are too smart to try to trade baskets with McMenamin and company.

A key member of that company is Atareta Mangu. She is quicksilver. If she is allowed to run, she can score 40 points in breakaway lay-ups.

The referees are —

Men’s grand final: Cliff Blumfield, Shay Waikawa.

Women’s final: Adrian Sparks, Amoe Tarsau.

Men’s B Grade final: Petra Sparks, David Glendenning.

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