The talented Wellington U15 Girls side were undefeated in the National U15 Tournament, up until the final, where they met a very strong Waikato side.
Waikato put together a complete performance in the final to defeat Wellington 61-35 outscoring their opponents in all four quarters.
Threes from Shawnessy Nordstrom and Caitlin Ward helped Waikato to a 22-8 first quarter lead as things looked ominous for Wellington.
Tatiana Mareko scored the first points for Wellington in the second period, but the girls from the Capital were struggling to break down the Waikato defence and found themselves 32-15 in arrears at half-time.
Nordstrom led all scorers at the break with 9 points closely followed by Ward on 7 points. Naomi Sopoaga headed the Wellington effort with 5 points and 8 rebounds.
Lilly Taulelei opened proceedings in the second half but when Tournament MVP Nordstrom scored seven straight points the Waikato lead was in excess of 20 (41-19).
Rangi Tawera responded with a score for Wellington but Kaylah Waihi answered with a pair of baskets and Waikato were almost out of sight at three-quarter time leading 49-25.
For Waikato coach Leanne Walker it was yet another national title but for youngest daughter Tannika it was her first national championship, perhaps the first of many, as she follows in the foot steps of Tall Ferns sisters Krystal and Charlisse.
To their credit Wellington kept persevering to the end but could do little to stop the Waikato juggernaut.
Congratulations to both Lilly Taulelei and Naomi Sopoaga from WBA who made the Tournament Team.
- Wellington 35 – L Taulelei 10, T Mareko 8, T Doyle 6, N Sopoaga 5/10r
- Waikato 61 – S Nordstrom 19, K Waihi 9/8r, T Leger-Walker 9/4a, C Ward 7, K Albert-Neha 6, T Walker 4/8r
Referees: Angus Henderson and Response Tuyishime
Girls’ Tournament Team
- Otago – Laura Ring
- Harbour – Rebecca Moors
- Waitaha Canterbury A – Lauren Whittaker
- Auckland – Waimanu Clarken
- Tasman – Maia Jones
- Wellington – Naomi Sopoaga
- Waikato – Tannika Leger-Walker
- Wellington – Lilly Taulelei
- Waikato – Kaylah Waihi
- Waikato – Shawnessy Nordstrom – Most Valuable Player