Over the first week of the school holidays Mr Howell and Mr Grocott took the Senior A Basketball team to Palmerston North to participate in the National Tournament.
This was the first time Shirley has been to this tournament since 2010. The team finished 6th in the South Island Qualifying Tournament and this placed us in a tough pool (that had the eventual winners Rangitoto, and also had third place Fraser High School in it). Our first game was against the Number One ranked Rangitoto, who had 6’10, 17-year-old Tall Black and Breaker – Tai Wynyard. This team was packed with New Zealand age group representatives and was a true measuring stick for our team. Despite some good play, we were outclassed 105-56. Jake Simpson was our leading scorer with 13 points
Day Two, we came up against another tall team, New Plymouth Boys' High School. This was another tough game, and after some strong performances from Connor Page (12 points) and Eacan Westwood (10 points) we eventually were beaten 76-66.
Later in the day, we came up against an incredibly strong and athletic team from Fraser High from Hamilton. The game was very fast-paced and more physical than our boys were used to. Patrick Rodger's athletic play allowed him to top score for us with 19 points, while Jake Simpson had a hard-earned 17 points. We were within 15 points at the start of the 4th quarter, but some accurate shooting in the last few minutes by Fraser led to a final score of 103-74. Despite the loss, it was an enjoyable game.
On Day Three we faced the other team in our pool without a win, St Kentigern's College. This was our best start to a game so far. Some good team work and accurate shooting allowed us to gain a 20-point lead early in the second quarter. After half time 'St Kents' came out determined to fight back. Luckily we had several strong performances to allow us to get the 89-68 win for our first victory of the tournament. Patrick Rodger was again outstanding and topped the score sheet with 30 points. Will Grocott (14) and Connor Page (11) provided valuable scoring support in this game.
Our second game of the day and final pool game was against Onslow College. Unfortunately the energy needed to win earlier in the day led to a poor start and a lack of any real intensity. In a disappointing game we went down 69-43. Our rookie Year 13 guard Lachie Murdoch made the most of his minutes in the game and top-scored for us.
Day Four was the start of our playoff games for the Bottom Eight. We came up against St John's Hamilton. We needed to win this game to ensure we weren’t playing off for the last four spots. The game was close and intense and we had control throughout. Patrick Rodger stamped his authority on the game with an amazing offensive outburst in the first quarter that included two big dunks. The game was hard-fought and with, some accurate free-throw shooting in the last few minutes, we managed to hold off for a 95-84 win. Patrick Rodger had his best game of the tournament with a huge 35-point performance. The strong play of Jake Simpson (18) and the sweet shooting of Sean Kelly (15) capped off our best game of the tournament.
The next game we faced a well-known opponent, Burnside High School. We had not beaten them in the last few seasons and a combination of fatigue and lack of belief by our boys led to a 97-56 loss. One of our only highlights of this game was the fact that Year 10 Joel Jeffrey had his best game of the tournament reaching double figures in scoring. A really good learning experience for the young man.
Our last and 8th game of the tournament was against Napier Boys' High School, so most of the boys were pretty tired. Patrick and Will both had strong starts scoring 16 points and 11 points respectively. However Napier wanted it more and won 84-60.
We ended 20th in the country after a long week of Basketball. This was a fair reflection on our season and a good building block for the future of SBHS Basketball.