by Wendy Moffitt

HBHS win New Zealand Secondary Schools Water Polo Championships

Captain of Water Polo and newly-minted National representative, Matthew Lander, reports on the team's historic National title win.

In the second week of the April holidays, our Premier Water Polo team travelled up to Auckland to compete in the New Zealand Secondary Schools Water Polo Competition.  This competition is the biggest of the year and for the six Year 13s in the team, would be their final tournament representing HBHS.

In pool play we came up against Sacred Heart College A1, St Peter’s College and Auckland Grammar. We beat these teams 13 - 2, 21 - 3 and 7 - 5 respectively. This put us in first position in our pool and gave us a commanding position going into the second phase of pool play.

Our cross-over pool placed the top three from the North Island Secondary Schools Competition together with only two spots available to advance to the semi-finals.  Our first cross-over game pitted us against Westlake Boys’ High School.  This game was a key point in the tournament for the team as everyone began to find their form, contributing to a convincing 11 - 4 win. Day 3 began with a game against Rangitoto College who we had beaten in a penalty shootout in the final of the North Island competition. This game was again very close, with great performances from Boston Horwood and Geordie Chapman seeing us take the game 6 - 5.

This pitted us against Tauranga Boys’ College in the semi-final that night.  We came out strong, leading 3 - 0 but Tauranga bit back hard, scoring two quick goals before the first quarter was over.  As the half time whistle blew we had a 5 - 3 lead.  A dominant second half display saw us win 9 - 5. Special mention must go to Hugo Barbour who had a fantastic game, scoring five of our nine goals.

This put us in the grand final on Day 4 against season rivals Rangitoto College who had a bit of a bone to pick with us. Rangitoto came out extremely hard in the first quarter, scoring two goals in their first two possessions.  This prompted Keran Van Staden to take action as he fired a bullet into the top right corner. Another goal from Rangitoto and another clinical finish from Mitchell Keightley saw the first quarter end at 3 - 2 to Rangitoto.

Rangitoto came out hard again at the start of the second quarter, scoring another two quick goals to go up 5 - 2.  This seemed to anger the big man Keran Van Staden as he decided this was his game to take over, scoring another long range shot to bring the score up to 5 - 3 at half time. Goals from Keran Van Staden and Mitchell Keightley without reply evened out the game at 5 - 5 at three quarter time.  Going into the final quarter nerves were high, but we felt that we had the momentum.  Rangitoto ended their second half goal drought putting themselves up by one.  However, some strong counter attacking from Brody Lang along with Mitchell Keightley saw us draw the game even again.

With 46 seconds to go, we took a time out which gave us time to draw up a play and a final opportunity to score a match winner and end the game before it went to penalties.  The play drawn up was essentially to run Keran Van Staden as a distraction with Boston Horwood running a screen with Geordie Chapman to get himself free.  Rangitoto adjusted really well and I must credit Hugo Barbour for having the vision and intelligence to make a split-second decision to play the other way, with Boston becoming the distraction for an isolated Keran Van Staden to do what he does best, scoring what proved to be the winning goal.  The pressure to score turned out to be too much for Rangitoto to handle, as a final block from Matt Lander secured our first ever National Secondary Schools title. Celebrations quickly ensued as Assistant Coach Roana Paterson, Manager Mark Harvey and Head Coach Rahiti Teokotai-White were all shoved into the pool.  Special mention to Boston Horwood for being our top goal scorer of the tournament and Keran Van Staden for being named Tournament MVP.

This has truly been a monumental season for the HBHS Premier Water Polo team, winning the “double” consisting of the North Island Secondary Schools title and the National title while remaining undefeated all season for the first time in our school's history.  We also became the first school from outside of Auckland or Wellington to win the title.  Of the other top 15 teams in the Premier Division, we played and beat 14 which supports our level of dominance this season.  We also finished with the highest number of goals scored and fewest conceded in both tournaments.

There are two groups of people that I would like to take this opportunity to thank.  One is the parents for their unwavering support of both their boys and the coaching staff.  Many an early morning and sacrificed family holiday has gone into earning this championship.  Finally I would like to extend my personal gratitude to Assistant Coach Roana Paterson, Manager Mark Harvey, and Head Coach Rahiti Teokotai-White who have provided invaluable support to both myself and the team over the season.  Special mention must go to Mark who has managed this group of young men over the past four seasons with his son actually finishing at HBHS last year.  We are all very appreciative of the immense amount of work that you have put in to ensure our season was a success.

The members of the National Championship winning team are as follows: Hugo Barbour, Geordie Chapman, Joshua Edwards, Boston Horwood, Sherif Hosni, Oliver Ingram, Mitchell Keightley, Samuel Keightley, Brody Lang, Hunter Read, Connor Stuart, Keran Van Staden (who also received the Most Valuable Player Trophy), and Captain of Code, Matthew Lander.