Saving the best for last
New Zealand boys rounded off pool play with a thrilling 66-57 win over New South Wales Country at the Australian U16 Championships in Tamworth, finishing the round robin with a 4-2 record.
The Kiwis, coached by Blake Moore, trailed by as many as nine points early in the final quarter, but put on 18 unanswered points down the stretch to draw away in the dying moments.
Although NSW grabbed 18 offensive rebounds and attempted 19 more shots from the field, most were three-pointers, where they connected with only 4/21 for the game. By contrast, New Zealand were again efficient in the paint, outscoring their rivals 36-20 from close range.
Auckland’s Kane Keil led all scorers with 19 points, while Waitakere West Auckland’s Reuben Porter had 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
Meanwhile, the NZ girls, coached by Sue Pene, also finished fast to run out 65-61 winners over Tasmania and finish with a 2-4 pool record.
They trailed by 11 late in the third period, but unleashed a 12-point run that swept them into the lead when it mattered.
The Kiwi girls enjoyed a huge rebounding advantage that included 23 offensive boards, but sent their opponents to the free=throw line 34 times, of which they converted 25.
North Harbour’s Akiene Reed had 17 points for New Zealand and New Plymouth’s Connie Poletti scored 11.
Australian U16 Championships
Tamworth, New South Wales
New Zealand 66 (Kane Keil 19, Reuben Porter 15) New South Wales Country 57
HT 28-30 (12-18)
Q3 40-46 (12-16)
FT 66-57 (26-11)
New Zealand 65 (Akiene Reed 17, Connie Poletti 11. Kelcy Ballantyne 10) Tasmania 61
HT 29-34 (11-20)
Q3 43-49 (14-15)
FT 65-61 (22-12)