2017 Grand Finals Day Report


Basketball Grand Finals Day by Bruce Martin, James Lissaman and Sharon Erwood

It was another great day to wind up a successful Canterbury club competition with 14 Grand Finals in all grades, starting with the traditional four Junior All-Stars finals in Yr5/6 and Yr7/8 Boys and Girls.

Men’s Premier Championship: Pioneer Pacers 88 Lincoln University 66

In the final game of the day Pioneer Pacers proved too strong for an exhausted Lincoln University side in the Men’s Premier club basketball Championship Grand Final, coming out victors 88-66 in Cowles stadium on Saturday evening. The win is Pioneer’s first championship win since joining the Premier grade in 2014 and adds to its win in the Alan Hoben trophy, from earlier in the year.

Pioneer Pacers, led by the athletic Marty Davison, qualified for its first Men’s Premier championship Grand final when it comfortably beat Wolverines in the semi-final. Pioneer, founded by Dave Langrell, still contains key members, Davison, Oli Davies and Harley Campbell from the inaugural team. The team is now coached by Fraser Costley. Lincoln University had to do it the hard way, winning its semi only on Thursday night edging Checkers after four of its key players had just returned from China contesting the FISU World 3x3 championships and suiting up for both MU23 and Premier teams.

Pioneer have found form at the right time of the season. At one stage looking unlikely to make the playoffs, they have come out firing in the back half of the championship round. Oli Davies (20, 9R) continued with his Man of the Match performance from the Semi-Final to lead the team in scoring and was once again supported by Nick Erwood (14, 8R) who, after a slow start, hit some key shots in the second quarter after LU found themselves behind 19-24 at the end of the first quarter. At the same time Pioneer hit their straps, the Lincoln University team, who had already played a tough U23 game earlier in the day, shot a disappointing 2 from 20 attempts in the second quarter. Pioneer outscored Lincoln 22-4 in the period, giving them the lead going into the half 41-28. This lead proved too tough for Lincoln to counter and Pioneer kept the pressure on with inspirational leader Marty Davison (11, 5R, 7A) directing his team through to their first Championship victory. In the second half Jesse Campbell fired up to shoot an efficient 5 from 6 attempts and big man Mike Townsend caused havoc in the paint showing the depth of the Pioneer bench. James Cawthorn (18, 9R) The Williams Brothers (Josiah (14, 10R & Ben 10) along with Ben Bowie, a hard-earned 20 points and 20 rebounds started to show the effects of two solid weeks of basketball that left them gasping at the end the match. 

Grand Final Score: Pioneer Pacers 88 (Oli Davies 20, 9R; Nick Erwood 14, 8R; Jesse Campbell 13; Marty Davison 11) Lincoln University 66 (James Cawthorn 19, 8R; Josiah Williams 16, 10R; Ben Bowie 12; Ben Williams 10). HT: 41-28. MVP: Oli Davies


Women’s Premier Championship: North Canterbury 80 Lincoln University 36

North Canterbury raced away with the Women’s Premier championship title, humbling the defending champion Lincoln University 80-36, pulling away strongly in the second half after a low scoring first quarter (8-4) and a tighter second quarter where NC led 30-14. It was North Canterbury’s first championship title.

North Canterbury joined the Women’s Premier competition in 2015, gathering together a team of North Canterbury based players, in its inaugural season, was edged 54-69 by the all-powerful University of Canterbury side in the Grand final which had till then dominated the competition for much of the decade. Lincoln University dominated the grade winning both trophies in 2016 while NC was pipped by UC in the semi-finals.

NC’s battle against LU continued in the Patron’s trophy round this season, NC pipping LU 58-57 in the round robin, while Lincoln took the Trophy Final 60-56. North Canterbury born Wildcat Courtney Hamblin moved away for work, Fran Edmondson was delayed on her flight home from Volleyball world series and Tessa Stewart-Morrison returned to her American college, causing issues for the depth of the LU team. At a late hour, key player Wildcat Connie Poletti was not available for the final as she was invited to trial for the NZ 3x3 team turning the final in NC’s favour. On the other hand, NC had gone from strength to strength this season. Lincoln never threatened in a game that saw North Canterbury able to run their whole bench. Veteran Wildcat Hayley Gray returned to lead North Canterbury with her usual court strength, strong performances from the two Junior Tall-Ferns Charlotte Whittaker and Esra McGoldrick, while Terina Wanoa was forced to sit out the final with a niggling injury. Former Tactix player Gemma Hazeldine and Wildcat Ash Fane added depth to the team.

Whittaker, after a very nervous start, dominated the boards for NC with 20 points and 17 rebounds while McGoldrick was chosen MVP with her 12 points, 10 rebounds and all-around performance. Taneisha Nutira, a real stand out, had a little cameo slotting five triples in the second spell to score 21 points while while Helen Mathews, selected in the NZ Under 17 squad that will travel to Chennai, India in October,  showed her potential with some strong all-round play. Leading Canterbury Wildcat Fran Edmondson was well off form for LU and sat out much of the second spell, scoring only one basket while it was the diminutive Bianca Malifa (13), Lucy Brown and Maja Burry that carried the workload for Lincoln.

Coach Wade Parata was very proud of his team's effort, especially defensively: “We had finals’ nerves in the first quarter as we missed a lot of easy shots but maintained our defensive intensity which was our trademark all year.

Team felt like putting in a big effort for their teammate Terina Wanoa who had to sit out the final game but has been playing extremely well in the weeks leading up to the final. It was the hardest basketball decision I’ve has had to make, but it helped fuel and motivate the team.”

Grand Final Score: North Canterbury 80 (Taneisha Nutira 21; Charlotte Whittaker 20, 17R; Esra McGoldrick 12, 10R) Lincoln University 36 (Bianca Malifa 10). HT: 30-14. MVP: Esra McGoldrick


Men’s Under 23 Grand Final: Lincoln University Bulls 82 University Canterbury A 75

In the Men’s Under 23 Grand Final Lincoln University continued its amazing record, taking the final against University of Canterbury A 82-75, its fourth successive championship and extends its unbeaten record to 72 games with James Cawthorn (18, 9R) having played all four successful campaigns. Several times during this game Lincoln looked to increase their lead but every time they did either Josh Peterman (27, 4A) or Paul Stephenson (19, 13R) would come back with baskets for Varsity.  At one stage LU rested some key players as they were needed to front up to the Men's Premier final later in the day but despite their best efforts the bench players let Varsity back into the game forcing Coach Joshua Paurini to play his starting five for the majority of the game. Ben Bowie was looking for the three-peat with a man of the match performance of 20 pts and 20 boards but was overlooked for the MVP award by the selectors in favour of point guard Josiah Williams (15, 5A) who showed his class with the ball in hand.

Grand Final Score: Men’s Under 23: Lincoln University Bulls 82 (Ben Bowie 20, 20R; James Cawthorn 18, 9R; Josiah Williams 15, 5A; Ben Williams 12) University Canterbury A 75 (Josh Petermann 27, 4A; Paul Stephenson 19, 13R). HT: University 45-43. MVP: Josiah Williams


Men’s Under 20 Grand Final: Burnside Checkers 83 Ashburton 72

Burnside Checkers continued its four-year dominance in the Boys’ Under 20 grade with a thrilling come from behind 83-72 win over Ashburton. Burnside have now won the championship in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, and now 2017. This one was in doubt the whole way, as Ashburton fought tooth and nail in an effort to take the title, in one of the best contests this season.

Burnside have now gone 17-0 this season with the other two encounters going down to the wire, Burnside sneaking home 97-90 in the round robin, 69-66 in Top six. Final’s MVP Isaiah Morris has been a stand out man all his basketball career, notching a power full 30 points under constant pressure by the tall Ashburton defence while John John Quitiong and Liam Reekie picked up the slack as the game progressed.

Standing out for Ashburton was Fletcher Arnold with 20 pts while Joshua Lowe and Nick Fechney added depth to the Ashburton attack. In a very tight game the teams were level 21/21 at the first break, then Ashburton took control to nudge ahead 40-33 at the turnaround and 57/50 by the third break. Gradually Burnside worked its magic and came closing in to take the championship in the closing minutes.

Grand Final Score: Burnside-Checkers 83 (Isaiah Morris 30; Liam Reekie 13; John Quitiong 10) Ashburton 72 (Fletcher Arnold 20; Joshua Lowe 19; Nick Fechney 11). HT: Ashburton 40-33. MVP: Isaiah Morris


Boys U17A Grand Final: Cashmere gold 82 Rangiora HS 42

The BU17 grade is a tremendous breeding ground for the future of Canterbury Basketball, attracting 21 teams and now divided into three groups. The original top A group contained 8 teams with StAC and STC dropping to the Mid-section after the first round, such was the strengths of the top teams in the grade. 

The Mid and Development finals were held on Semi-finals day with STC beating Shirley B 77-69 in the Mid Grand Final and Burnside B taking the Development Grand Final, edging STC B 58-55.

In the U17A Grand Final the Rangiora High Boys U17A team had left all their energy on the semi-final court the previous Saturday where they came from 21 points down two minutes from three-quarter time to put out top seed Middleton Grange Green but were no match for the skilled Cashmere Gold side, going down 42-82 in Saturday’s Grand Final.

Blake Cunninghamme 12, and Noa Price 10, led the scoring for NC but others like Canaan Tarawa, Travis Jennings and the MacFarlane brothers, Conor and Lachlan were shut out of the game by the much taller Cashmere boys. Stand outs for Cashmere with huge potential led by Louis Oskam, Luca Williams and Finn Barclay while Oki Tilaia was chosen MVP with his all-round play.

Cashmere led 24-6 at quarter-time, 46-21 by half-time and 69-39 at the third break. For a brief spell in the final quarter the Rangiora boys showed its fighting spirit to finish the final with their heads held high.

Coach Sam Watkins added: “Rangiora had little left in the tank after their huge efforts in their semi-final the week before, going down to a determined Cashmere side 82-42. Cashmere were out for blood after last year’s over-time loss at South Islands and came out firing, getting out to an early 13-0 lead. A strong fight from Rangiora throughout showed heart but it wasn't enough to overcome Cashmere this time around."

Grand Final Score: Men’s U17A: Cashmere Gold 82 (Louis Oskam 17; Luca Williams 16; Finn Barclay 11; Tom Webley 10) Rangiora HS 42 (Blake Cunninghame 12; Noa Price 10). HT: 46-21. MVP: Oki Tilaia


Boys U15 Grand final: St Thomas 43 Shirley Spartans 59

Report by Danny Gilmore

The Boys’ U15 final was played between the two teams which have been dominant all year, St. Thomas of Canterbury College and Shirley Boys’ High School. Shirley got off to a strong start thanks to baskets from Tautahi Briggs and Boppy Halaifonua. Tanae Lavery opened the scoring for St Thomas’s with a three, followed by a couple of nice mid-range jump shots. Shirley had a clear game plan, press at every opportunity forcing Lavery to work hard to get the ball up the court, while using their size and strength in the half court to force outside shots. In reply, St Thomas’s were happy to rely on their help defence and looking to fast break. By end of the quarter Shirley had stretched their lead out to 12 points with all 5 starters scoring, including 9 points from Halaifonua, while Lavery was carrying St Thomas’s as their only scorer.

The second Quarter produced more of the same with Shirley pressing and forcing turnovers, but struggling to convert. Shirley’s size and strength started as show as Lavery found it hard to get close to the hoop, missing several opportunities to convert both free Throws from fouls earnt from his efforts. Ryan Wood and Gregory Rodger both came up with big blocks for Shirley while St Thomas’s finally had a second player on the Score Sheet with Big Man Sam Gallagher converting underneath. Shirley had pulled further away at the half leading 34 – 18 restricting St. Thomas to just 9 points in the quarter. Shirley Coach Jamie Graham was looking for more of the same in the third as they continued with their press. Lavery started the third strong for St Thomas’s after looking tired at half time with 3 buckets. However, this quarter belonged to Greg Rodger and Shirley. Playing on an injured ankle he scored 10 points in the quarter and had numerous blocks as they finished the third quarter leading by a commanding 22 points at 49-27.

St Thomas’s coach (Neville Brooker) needed to find something extra from his players and went to a full court match in the fourth. His team responded with great support from the side-line lifting their intensity. Lavery, after being subbed off for the first time at end of the third, scored three almost identical baskets in a row, showing great balance and control, driving on right, but euro stepping through the defence and finishing reverse with his left hand. St Thomas’s had a sniff with the lead well under 20 but the experienced Graham quickly had a timeout to talk it over with Shirley.

Following the timeout, and after a quiet game offensively, Joshua Lacey carried on the momentum for St Thomas’s with 7 points in the fourth. While Shirley seemed to stop playing offence with some poor shot decisions, Kane Thomson finally sunk any thoughts of a comeback by St Thomas’s scoring 7 points in the fourth including a big three with around 4 minutes left on the clock for Shirley. A Tired Lavery could do little as Dylan Weaich worked hard to deny him the ball. The game finished 59 – 43 to Shirley. Overall Shirley seemed to go deeper and were too big and strong for the valiant St. Thomas’s side, Shirley’s Tautahi Briggs named MVP for the final

Grand Final Score: Boys Under 15: Shirley Spartans 59 (Boppy Halaifonua 15; Gregory Rodger 11; Tautahi Briggs 10; Ryan Wood 10) St. Thomas College 43 (Tanae Lavery 23). HT: 34-17. MVP: Tautahi Briggs


Men’s Division One Grand final: Atami Casa de Banos 59 Wolverines Blue 58

Atami Casa de Banos formed by the Howell brothers Ritchie and Scott stepping down this year after more than a decade dominating the Men’s Premier for Atami had the better of the long established Wolverines Blue side containing players like Lionel Hopgood, Terry Brunel and Jamie Graham for much of this game, but Atami never seemed to be able to pull far enough away to get comfortable. For Atami, the Howell brothers, Ritchie (19, 11R) and Scott (12, 9R) led the way. Simon Hodgson, Andrew Gebbie, Troy Russell, Chris Johnston and the beast Nathan Hyde ground away inside for some strong post play baskets and this ultimately proved the difference between the two teams. Nick Purcell fought hard for Wolverines along with support from Johny Lung and was solid in set play as well has pulling in boards. Field goals were hard to come by for both teams so it was apt that it ended up being an Andrew Gebbie 20 foot jumper with less than a second to go on the clock that gave Atami the win.

Grand Final Score: Men’s Division One: Atami Casa de Banos 59 (Ritchie Howell 19, 11R; Scott Howell 12, 9R) Wolverines Blue 58 (Nick Purcell 13; Johny Lung 10). HT: 29-29. MVP: Ritchie Howell 


Women’s Division One Grand Final: Halswell Red 36 Halswell Green 31 

A depleted defending champion Royals dark Horses was put out in the semis with the dominance of the Royals club being broken by the two Halswell teams which between them contain many players having National, Canterbury, Waikato and NZIS experience, and most are now in their twilight years of their basketball. The Green team has many of its player around the 40’s mark while it was the experienced duo of former Wildcats Bridget Salkeld and Anna Williams that carried the day for the Red's bolstered by a number of much younger and faster players.

The grade has struggled with five entries for a number of years with a possibility of a team from across the bridge making a new entry in the competition next season

Women’s Division One: Halswell Red 36 (Bridget Salkeld 17) Halswell Green 31 (Marinda van Vuuren 9; Jane Lattimore 9). HT: 14-14. MVP: Bridget Salkeld


Women’s Under 23 Grand final: Lincoln University 80 Halswell 32 

This is the first year of the WU23 but based on the former WU20 grade as the CBA continues to build its numbers in the female grades. Lincoln University had too much depth for the younger Halswell team with Sophie Schrader 18, Lucy Brown 16, Caitlin Grice, Bianca Malifa and Paris Nurse showing depth in their ranks while Aleni Chapman and Holly Iafeta lead the challenge for Halswell.

The diminutive Malifa, recently returned from China playing in  the FISU World 3x3 championships and suiting up for both the Lincoln WU23 and Premier teams was chosen MVP for her busy hustling play.

Women’s Under 23: Lincoln University 80 (Sophie Schrader 18; Lucy Brown 16; Caitlin Grice 13; Bianca Malifa 13; Paris Nurse 12) Halswell 32 (Aleni Chapman 8; Holly Iafeta 8). HT: 38-14. MVP: Bianca Malifa


Girls Under 17 Grand Final: Wharenui Gators White 72 Wharenui Gators Green 47 

Wharenui Gators was the inaugural champion in the GU15 grade in 2014 with the grade changing to GU16 in 2015 where Rangi Ruru reigned supreme. Girls ‘High captured the GU17 title in 2016 while the two Gators teams dominated this season’s eight teams in the GU17 grade with the White team, led by strong performance from Maia Williamson 17, Fia Lai Kong and Hannah Malaysay going through the season with a 16-0 record and again proved too strong for the Gators Green team.

Girls Under 17: Wharenui Gators White 72 (Maia Williamson 17; Fia Lai Kong 13; Hannah Malaysay 13) Wharenui Gators Green 47 (Isobelle Orr 15; Katie Jo van den Bogaert 13). HT: 42-28. MVP: Fia Lai Kong


The Junior All- Stars Basketball competition was played each Sunday over five weeks in the Pioneer stadium, and in North Canterbury in the last week where the best players are chosen to represent their six respective sports hubs. These games are the breading ground of our future Canterbury Wildcats, Canterbury Rams and North Canterbury representatives. Bishopdale YMCA are the top Hub in this seasons All-Stars competition with three of their teams gaining a place on Finals day and winning all three grades in which they played.

Other sports hubs involved are Waikirikiri (Selwyn), Pioneer, Gators, and the Eastern Wolverines based on Cowles Stadium.


In the Junior All-Stars finals, North Canterbury had two teams qualify for Grand finals day with the NC Tar Heels Boys Yr5/6 coming up short, losing 34-40 against Bishopdale YMCA after leading 21-18 well into the game. Jonty Daniels 12 and Seth McKay 10 topped the sheet for the Tar Heels.

Year 5/6 Boys Grand Final Score: Bishopdale YMCA 40 (Carter Rhodes 22) North Canterbury Tar Heels 34 (Jonty Daniels 12; Seth McKay 10). MVP: Carter Rhodes


The NC Tar Heels Girls Yr5/6, coached by Helen Matthews, also came up against Bishopdale YMCA with YMCA pulling away to beat the defending champion Tar Heels 38-30. Ophelia Powell led the scoring for the Tar Heels with nine points.

Year 5/6 Girls Grand Final Score: Bishopdale YMCA 38 (Niamh Chamerlain 16) North Canterbury Tar Heels 30 (Ophelia Powell 9). HT: 15-8. MVP: Milla Dowling


The Junior All Stars Yr 7-8 Boys Final was won by Pioneer Pacers 47-28 over Wharenui Gators   HT: 27-15. Jalen Dickel 13, Alex Wenmoth 11 and Louie Gordan 10 featured for Pioneer while Jarius Montenegro sunk 15 for Gators. MVP: Alex Wenmoth


Junior All Stars Yr 7-8 Girls Grand Final: Bishopdale YMCA 40 Wharenui Gators 32  

Grand Final Score: Bishopdale YMCA 40 (Trin Mackley-Flutey 14, Cassidy Brunel 11) Wharenui Gators 32 (Maddie Morrow 11). MVP: Cassidy Brunel


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