Girls' High duo look toward future in basketball in final year of school
27 Oct 2016
Bayley Ransfield and Joellen How are shooting their way to the top.
Both members of the Junior Tall Ferns, they are where they want to be for now, but their ambition in basketball soars beyond their current level.
"We definitely want to play for a college in The States. That's the main goal," How says.
The New Plymouth Girls' High School students have been part of the New Zealand system from under-16s and were part of the side who recently took on China's under-19 team in a two-match series in September, with China winning both matches.
"It was intense," 18-year-old Ransfield says.
"They were so fast and so fit, it was crazy," 17-year-old How adds.
While How and Ransfield, who play point guard and shooting guard respectively, didn't see much time on the court in the series against China, they say they learnt a lot being part of the New Zealand set up.
"You have to step your game up. You train like two or three times a day - a couple of hours each training," Ransfield says
Coming out of training camps with the Junior Tall Ferns, How says the level of play drops completely and it's easy to see what you've learned and how you've improved.
"It is a bit difficult, the first training back with the New Zealand squad, because it's such a step up, but you get used to it," she says.
"Then your try to bring that level with you into your school trainings," Ransfield, who captain's the Girls' High Senior A side, adds.
The pair have been playing the sport since early on in their lives, with Ransfield first taking to the court at the age of five and How first playing when she was 10.
"I just watched my brother really - I just copied everything he did so I played basketball because he played," Ransfield says.
How's story is a little different. With neither of her parents playing the sport and no older siblings, it was her primary school friends who got her interested in playing basketball.
While they may have been introduced to the sport in different ways, they both got their first taste of the New Zealand system at the under-16s level and have been involved with the national programme ever since.
Now, both in their final year of high school, the duo say they hope to follow in the footsteps of Hawera's Kayla Manuirirangi.
Manuirirangi played for Girls' High in 2015 and is now playing for division one school Tulane University in New Orleans on a $500,000 four-and-a-half year scholarship.
Both Ransfield and How say they look up to Manuirirangi, as do many other girls in the region.
"She's not that famous yet, but she will be," How says.
"It's a growing sport here for women. So many girls are going over to the States now which is good for us, it opens heaps of doors."
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ