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Back to back Championships for Opunake High School

Back to back Championships for Opunake High School

Schick Championships – OPUNAKE HIGH SCHOOL WIN THE ‘A’ GIRLS’ GRAND FINAL 

The Schick ‘A’ Girls’ Grand Final featured local side Manukura and Opunake High, an absorbing contest eventually won by the defending champions 58-56.

Isabelle Cook opened the scoring and Iritana Hohaia landed a three as Opunake started confidently. Rochelle Fourie and Kiwi Hunter-Rogan responded with some strong inside moves for Manukura that trailed 21-17 at quarter time.

Six straight points off turnovers from Hohaia prompted a timeout from Manukura coach Joe Frost with his team trailing 29-21. Mia Waiariki reduced the arrears briefly but Cook responded with an And 1 play to take the Opunake lead into double figures – 36-25.

A 6-0 Manukura run brought them back into the contest before Hohaia garnered another steal and converted the layup. The livewire point guard led all scorers at the interval with 18 points almost matched by Cook with 15 points as the defending champions led 40-31. Fourie was the best for Manukura with 13 points at an efficient 5 from 7 shooting.

A disgruntled Opunake coach Angelo Hill called an early second half timeout after Carys Dellinger was granted an open lay-up. Jessica Roach got the scoreboard moving again for Opunake with back to back outside shots – 44-34 in their favour at the midpoint of the third. 

Forwards Cook and Fourie impressed for their team and it was Cook with steals on consecutive plays plus a basket in transition that kept Opunake ahead 46-37 with two minutes to play in the third.

Brody Manson scored a couple of baskets in the shadows of three-quarter time to cut the Opunake lead to three points (47-44) at the last break.

Harata Coleman trimmed the Opunake lead to a single point but soon after lost Fourie as she picked up her fifth foul.

Tenaeya Sutcliffe made a basket for Opunake but with both teams tiring scoring slowed significantly.

Cook scored inside with a neat left handed basket but a triple from Coleman plus a freebie after being fouled and then a lay up from the lively Manson tied the scores at 53 apiece with 3:30 to play.

Harata restored the Opunake lead – 56-53 - reduced by a Carys Dellinger free throw with 1:09 to play.

Dellinger tied the scores in the final 20 seconds much to the delight of the home support only for Tournament MVP Isabelle Cook to seal the game with 8 seconds to play. 
 
An emotional Opunake coach Angelo Hill was extremely happy after the game. 

“We have a family culture at the school and this team is an extension of my family,” he said.

“I’m demanding, I’m tough on them, but I love them like my own family – they busted their tails off for me.

“It was an intense final and I must commend Joe (Manukura coach Joe Frost) because his team has improved so much this year and they deserve great credit.

“Isabelle (Cook), Iritana (Hohaia) and Simone (Cooke) have been our rocks this season. Simone couldn’t get her shot off tonight, but her leadership and composure has been key’” Hill added.

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