NZSS Championships
2-7 October, 2017
Palmerston North

MAGS wins Bronze

Tournament results: v St Johns Hamilton: won 74-48; v St Peter’s College: won 87-59; v Napier Boys: won 72-64; v Fraser High: won 95-76; v Rosmini: lost 67-77; Top 8 QF v Westlake: won 68-50; Top 4 SF v Rangitoto: lost 53-66; Playoff 3/4 v Christ’s: won 72-62 – Final placing: 3rd

The team went into this tournament with high expectations and much to prove. MAGS had the best possible start by dominating St John’s Hamilton and St Peter’s Auckland in the first day of the tournament. Both teams exerted pressure at times, but MAGS was too strong and picked up two early wins.

The next day, the team faced their first tense match against Napier Boys. An impressive run led by Mandela Baledrokadroka saw MAGS stretch out to an imposing lead at the half. Not be deterred, Napier Boys fought back and closed the deficit to a few points in the final quarter. MAGS showed character under pressure to hold on for the win.

In their next encounter, MAGS was not ready for the physical style of Fraser High and was on the back foot early on. Their aggressive drives to the basket forced many of the MAGS starting lineup to get into foul trouble. The team was well down at half time with their campaign on the edge.

What followed next was the most extraordinary reversal of fortunes. After the break, point guards Mandela Baledrokadroka and Xjana Luamanuvae-Su’a applied immense pressure on the defensive end causing Fraser to lose possession. MAGS ran away with the steals to win the third quarter 33-9, and ran away with the match to claim a coveted top 8 placing.

In the top of the pool clash, MAGS played against Auckland powerhouse Rosmini. Both teams started strong, matching each other in physicality, and this was reflected in the score. MAGS took their foot off the pedal allowing Rosmini to stretch out to a sizeable lead on the back of multiple offensive rebounds. In the end, this turned out to be crucial to the overall result. Despite a spirited fight back, MAGS was ultimately unable to get past a polished Rosmini team and had to face a more difficult road to the top.

MAGS was clearly the underdog going into their quarterfinal against the multi-championship winning Westlake team. At the start of the game, MAGS came out firing with all five players on the floor playing with intensity. MAGS raced out to an early lead while minimising the scoring for the opposition. Westlake responded strongly, but the team held their composure under pressure. MAGS weathered the storm against desperate shooting in the final quarter to claim a huge upset win and an unexpected place in the semifinals.

The team was in uncharted territory in a national semifinal. The defending champions, Rangitoto College, had no such issue. Despite their inexperience, MAGS played assertively and with confidence. Led by the point guards, the team was able to dictate the tempo and rhythm of the match. MAGS did all the early scoring to take a surprise lead after the first quarter, restricting Rangitoto to only 9 points.

Rangitoto was able to recover and they played some attacking basketball of their own to quickly close the gap. Strong defensive pressure effectively thwarted the MAGS shooting efforts and the game eventually slipped away. The team put up gallant resistance, but the damage was done and a shot at the championship was missed this time.

There was still plenty to play for with the final game for the season against Christ’s College. Fatigue was clearly an issue as MAGS was held scoreless for the first 7 minutes until a clutch of threes from Sataan Tawera sparked the team to life. Fresh substitutions brought new energy and high impact, which was typical of the team effort in this tournament. MAGS took the lead just before half time and didn’t look back.

MAGS was the only team in the top 8 without any New Zealand representative players and was routinely written off by observers. Without any big names, the players relied on team work and heart where all members contributed positively to the end result. The team exceeded all expectations and can be justifiably proud of their third-place finish.

To cap off an outstanding campaign, Captain Mandela Baledrokadroka was included in the prestigious Tournament Team, marking him as one of the best players in the country.


v Macleans College
4 August, 2017, at Macleans
MAGS wins 79-70

Top scorers: Xjana Luamanuvae-Su’a 33 points, Ryan Laumatia 19 points, Te Akau Pumipi 13 points.

MAGS was expecting a challenge from a full-strength lineup from Macleans College. They were also bolstered by a large and vocal home crowd.

This countered for little as MAGS got off to a flying start. Xjana Luamanuvae-Su’a scored 4 three pointers in quick succession which set the tone and pace in the early stages.

A loss of intensity and focus was an issue for MAGS who struggled to adapt to the pressure being applied by Macleans. Despite their strong start, MAGS trailed at the end of the first quarter. There was little change in the second quarter as both sides traded baskets.

Half time score: Macleans 35 – MAGS 33

There wasn’t much improvement after the break with Macleans breaking away on the back of their drives to the hoop. MAGS on the other hand, was struggling to score from close range. The reversal of fortunes came from relentless defensive work from Clarke Aiono which shut down the Macleans scoring. Xjana Luamanuvae-Su’a continued to keep the team in touch with another salvo of three pointers and MAGS took a narrow lead going into the final quarter.

The game remained close, but MAGS was able to pull away as they have done in many games recently. The team was better able to handle the pressure and impact players like Te Akau were crucial in applying pressure of their own.

MAGS claimed a hard-fought win, their fourth in a row, and are now safe from relegation dangers.


v Rangitoto College
28 July, 2017, at Rangitoto
MAGS wins 81-57

Top scorers: Te Akau Pumipi 22 points, Xjana Luamanuvae-Su’a 17 points, Jack Morrison 10 points

MAGS was looking to claim an upset win against a severely depleted Rangitoto College side. Even with much of their team out of the country, Rangitoto would be expected to have a lot of depth in their wider squad.

It was a slow start to the game for both sides with minimal scoring opportunities. MAGS suffered from poor defence which allowed Rangitoto to keep their scoring ticking over with easy layups. A lack of energy and effort from MAGS led to a worrying number of turnovers which kept the game close. A strong run from Te Akau Pumipi late in the second helped to ease the pressure.

Half time score: MAGS 44 – Rangitoto 42

A completely different team emerged from the half time break as MAGS began to play with purpose and poise. Three pointers early in the third quarter from Sataan Tawera and Xjana Luamanuvae-Su’a broke the back of the Rangitoto efforts and MAGS went on a scoring spree, winning the quarter 32 – 15.

Rangitoto managed to regain their composure but it was too little, too late. The defensive pressure from MAGS was telling and it created the opportunities to score. Te Akau Pumipi was near perfect, only missing one shot in his game high haul of 22 points.

Despite the weakened opposition, the team was pleased to record the win which was also their first against the national champions.


v Kelston Boys High School
30 June, 2017, at Kelston
MAGS wins 89-76

Top scorers: Jonty Vink 29 points, Ryan Laumatia 22 points, Sataan Tawera 20 points.

Even though Kelston Boys is sitting at the bottom of the table, MAGS took nothing for granted going into this match.

Buoyed by vocal supporters, Kelston had all the initial momentum. MAGS were clearly rattled by the raucous support and mistakes were all too common. Kelston effectively disrupted the team’s rhythm and played at a quick pace to control the first quarter.

Not to be outdone, MAGS struck back in the second half. Jonty Vink was outstanding in the post to dominate his opposite numbers. No stray ball was beyond his reach and he accumulated multiple offensive rebounds which were converted into baskets. MAGS were back in the game by half time.

Half time score: Kelston Boys 40 – MAGS 38

The game continued to be close after half time and although Kelston had a good run, they were unable to break away. Ryan Laumatia was in fine form with his drives to the hoop, seemingly able to slash through any defences. While doing so he was force Kelston into fouls and capitalise from the free throw line.

The game remained tight when Sataan Tawera scored a three pointer in the dying seconds of the third quarter. MAGS took the lead in the match and this signified an important psychological shift in momentum.

The floodgates well and truly opened in the final quarter as MAGS ran away with the match. Sataan Tawera continued to rain down threes to add another angle of attack. Kelston seemed to be a spent force and MAGS claimed a confident win.

The team showed courage and determination to fight back after a slow start and multiple players took on leadership roles. In addition to his impressive points haul, Jonty Vink also secured 21 rebounds. Sataan Tawera’s outstanding performance showed off his prowess and is a signal of things to come from the Year 10 player.


v Macleans College
26 June, 2017, at MAGS
MAGS wins 110-84

Top scorers: Mandela Baledrokadroka 20 points, Te Akau Pumipi 18 points, Jonty Vink 18 points.

MAGS and Macleans College were both desperate for a win in this match to avoid possible relegation problems. Both teams started at pace, attempting to stamp their authority on the match.

MAGS had the early initiative but turnovers proved costly and opened the door for a Macleans comeback. The physical nature of the encounter led to many scoring opportunities from the free throw line with Ryan Laumatia helping MAGS take a slim lead.

The second quarter was much tidier for MAGS who surged ahead on the back of quick reactions and steals. The entire team combined well to score from multiple vectors. Macleans was starting to crack under the strain allowing MAGS to take a substantial lead going into the half time break.

Half time score: MAGS 58 – Macleans 48

MAGS was in unfamiliar territory with such a big lead and much of the good work of the previous quarter was undone with sloppy work on defence. Macleans was able to capitalise from loose passes and swiftly erased the deficit. MAGS rallied in the second half of the quarter to restore the lead to the previous margin.

Keen to avoid a repeat of the late collapses of recent weeks, MAGS found another gear to completely demolish any hope of a Macleans upset. Mandela Baledrokadroka and Ryan Laumatia were in perfect sync as they piled on the points. Jonty Vink was highly effective at tidying up the offensive rebounds to score highly.

MAGS was finally able to secure a win which they did in emphatic style. The close matches of recent weeks taught the players valuable lessons about playing under pressure and these were applied to great effect in this match.


v Rosmini College
23 June, 2017, at Rosmini
MAGS loses 62-66

Top scorers: Ryan Laumatia 22 points, Jack Morrison 10 points, Te Akau Pumipi 10 points.

The match against Rosmini College proved to be a game of four different quarters.

MAGS seemed rattled in the early stages of the game and were timid on offence. Rosmini were supremely confident and their 3 point shooting allowed them to push out to a large first quarter lead.

The tables were well and truly turned in the second quarter with a resurgent MAGS dictating the pace of the match. Their uptempo style and fast break action proved most effective and Rosmini shooting accuracy plummeted. MAGS was able to close the gap and set up for another close match.

Half time score: Rosmini 34 – MAGS 33

The third quarter proved to be a stalemate with strong defensive work from both sides dominating the action. Neither side could break the deadlock with a low scoring quarter. Ryan Laumatia was aggressive throughout the match and drew fouls from the opposition. His free throw shooting allowed MAGS to take a 1 point lead going into the final quarter.

MAGS had the early advantage and raced out to a 6 point lead with 6 minutes to go. This was the moment when Rosmini rediscovered their shooting accuracy by taking advantage of some defensive lapses from MAGS. With the match in the balance, it seemed that Rosmini wanted it that much more and retook the lead with 2 minutes to go. They ended up taking the match to hand MAGS their fourth consecutive single digit loss.

MAGS played well against another top team in the competition and was unlucky not to come away with a win. The match did highlight outstanding efforts from Ryan Laumatia as he tore through the heart of the Rosmini defences, and Te Akau Pumipi who overpowered the opposition.


v Westlake Boys High School
16 June, 2017, at Westlake Boys
MAGS loses 80-85

Top scorers: Jonty Vink 25 points, Jack Morrison 20 points, Ryan Laumatia 11 points.

After the close matches of recent weeks, MAGS had a steely resolve and determination going into the return match against the table-topping Westlake Boys.

MAGS started with intensity with Westlake struggling to respond to the lightning quick passes from the point guards. These fed Jonty Vink and Jack Morrison in the post where they dominated their opposite numbers.

The game evened up in the second quarter, with MAGS again being put under pressure from long range shooting efforts. The team was helped by a steady stream of free throws, with foul troubles being a feature of the match. The game was too close to call at half time with Westlake Boys marginally ahead.

Half time score: Westlake Boys 44 – MAGS 42

Despite their best intentions, MAGS got off to another slow start in the third quarter. Westlake Boys raced ahead to a commanding 14 point lead half way through the quarter.

Undeterred, MAGS refused to be cowed and steadily fought their way back into the match. Strong defences forced the turnovers and shut down Westlake Boys which gave MAGS scoring opportunities.
MAGS closed the gap and then took the lead with 8 minutes left to play. Westlake found their composure and again there was a rain of three pointers and they retook the lead with 4 minutes left to play.

MAGS played valiantly and never gave up, but in the end, the seconds ran out and the team had to endure their third consecutive single digit loss. Jonty Vink and Jack Morrison combined to contribute 45 points. They were well-supported by physical play from Ryan Laumatia and a positive play style from everyone who took to the court.

Westlake Boys remain unbeaten at the top of the table but there were encouraging signs in this match that MAGS has found its rhythm. Expectations are now high that the team can foot it with the best in the competition.


v Auckland Grammar School
9 June, 2017, at Auckland Grammar
MAGS loses 62-69

Top scorers: Mandela Baledrokadroka 16 points, Jonty Vink 12 points, Xjana Luamanuvae-Su’a 12 points.

Taking on Auckland Grammar on their imposing home court is always a challenge, but it sets the scene for epic clashes between traditional rivals.

It was all one way traffic in the first quarter as MAGS struggled to find the hoop due to relentless defensive pressure from Auckland Grammar. This wasn’t the case at the other end of the court with MAGS only offering a token resistance. Mandela Baledrokadroka provided the only sparks as he deftly drove through and around the Auckland Grammar defences.

Lacklustre defensive efforts persisted for MAGS in the second quarter as Auckland Grammar threatened to pull away on the back of some sublime three point shooting. A late rally from MAGS just before half time ensured that the game would continue to be close.

Half time score: Auckland Grammar 39 – MAGS 31

The second half started in much the same fashion as the first with Auckland Grammar making early headway. There was a dramatic improvement in defence from MAGS which shut down the three point shooting from Auckland Grammar. Jonty Vink was strong in rebounding and when he played aggressively, found opportunities to score well.

MAGS were undeterred by the points deficit and continued to chip away at the lead but seemingly couldn’t close the persistent gap. Three point shots from Xjana Luamanuvae-Su’a and Ryan Laumatia in close succession closed the gap to 3 points with only 40 seconds remaining. Desperate defence from Auckland Grammar allowed them to edge out MAGS in dramatic fashion.

MAGS suffered another close loss to a top team in the Premier Grade. Small differences in performance are magnified at this level and the team will be looking to turn around the small margins in the return matches.

v Kelston Boys High School
26 May, 2017, at MAGS
MAGS wins 77-55

Top scorers: Mandela Baledrokadroka 15 points, Xjana Luamanuvae-Su’a 15 points, Ryan Laumatia 13 points

MAGS had the dubious honour of playing in a bottom-of-the-table clash against local rivals, Kelston Boys High School. Both schools went into this match eager for their first win in their respective campaigns and to avoid relegation trouble.

Both teams played with a measure of intensity mixed with desperation but this wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard in the early phases of the game. Kelston could only manage 5 points in the first quarter.

MAGS were playing in a more comfortable style, yet they were unable to break away from a tenacious Kelston side which could summon up three pointers to keep MAGS in check.

Half time score: MAGS 27 – Kelston Boys 22

The second half saw a more cohesive team effort for longer periods. Senior players Jonty Vink and Te Akau Pumipi saw plenty of action rebounding and applying strong defensive pressure. The wall of defence was too much for Kelston and MAGS was able to score from the extra possessions that were so keenly fought for.

The team pushed out the lead in the final quarter. Some exquisite three point shooting from Xjana Luamanuvae-Su’a was the icing on the cake as MAGS recorded their first win of the regular season.

This was a much more polished performance from MAGS. Greater consistency of effort for sustained periods saw the team inch away as the game progressed, while MAGS also showed improved co-operation and dynamic play.

v Saint Kentigern College
19 May, 2017, at Saint Kentigern
MAGS loses 66-68

Top scorers: Mandela Baledrokadroka 39 points, Jonty Vink 10 points, Xjana Luamanuvae-Su’a 8 points

Memories of the annual Sports Exchange match were still fresh, but everyone knows previous results count for nothing. This match produced another nail-biting finish which has been a hallmark of games between these two sides in recent years.

The first half of the match was underwhelming with the scores remaining close. Saint Kentigern were highly successful with their three point shooting to maintain a slight edge whenever MAGS threatened their lead.

Half time score: Saint Kentigern 27– MAGS 24

The action stepped up in the second half of the game, with Saint Kentigern making headway in the third quarter. A lack of effective defensive pressure saw Saint Kentigern grow in confidence while MAGS seemed timid and hesitant in response. They trailed by 10 points going into the final quarter.

Staring down the barrel of another heavy defeat seemed to rouse a determined spirit in the MAGS team and they awoke from their slumber to play some competitive basketball.

Their energetic efforts on defence started to pay dividends as Saint Kentigern’s shooting and passing accuracy diminished. MAGS was able to capitalise from multiple steals and forced turnovers to rapidly close the gap on the scoreboard.

MAGS took the lead for the first time in the match with 26 seconds left on the clock with a much needed three pointer from Xjana Luamanuvae-Su’a. Saint Kentigern had two free throws to clinch the win in the dying seconds but could only manage to tie the match, forcing over time.

In over time, Saint Kentigern stormed to an early lead reminiscent of the match in regular time. Mandela Baledrokadroka led a stubborn resistance and on the back of his shooting efforts, MAGS led by 3 points with 1 minute to play.

This proved to be an eternity as MAGS attempted to weather the storm from Saint Kentigern. The entire match was determined by a few critical moments and MAGS was not able to put the game away. Saint Kentigern found the equaliser with 9 seconds remaining and ultimately scored the final two from free throws due to a foul earned with 2.6 seconds on the clock.

This time MAGS was on the receiving end of a close loss, sparking scenes of jubilation for Saint Kentigern.

The match highlighted the truly heroic efforts of team captain Mandela Baledrokadroka – Mandela scored 39 points and all of the team points in over time, as well as collecting 13 rebounds to record a well-earned double-double.

v Rosmini College
12 May, 2017, at MAGS
MAGS loses 64-89

Top scorers: Mandela Baledrokadroka 24 points, Te Akau Pumipi 9 points, Xjana Luamanuvae-Su’a 9 points.

MAGS had a daunting challenge facing last year’s Auckland Champions, Rosmini College.

It was all one-way traffic at the start of the match with Rosmini breaking away early in the first quarter.

MAGS was clearly outworked by an impressive Rosmini outfit who took full advantage of timid defences. They rained down a hail of three pointers from open space to match the stormy conditions outside, extending an already comfortable lead. MAGS had no answers and were clearly struggling with Rosmini’s height advantage.

Half time score: Rosmini 45 – MAGS 26

MAGS did well to show some determination and fought back in the third quarter. More effective defensive efforts cut down the number of three pointers from Rosmini, but MAGS lacked execution offensively to make the most of their chances. They were at least able to halt Rosmini from building their lead.

Mandela Baledrokadroka led a spirited resistance and had great success driving through to score from under the hoop to top the scoring for MAGS. His efforts were matched by Clarke Aiono whose rebounding and defensive work supported the team.

Overall, this could only be described as a heavy defeat. There is much that the young MAGS team can learn from the seasoned Rosmini veterans.

v Saint Kentigern College
6 May, 2017, at Saint Kentigern
MAGS wins 52-49

Top scorers: Xjana Luamanuvae-Su’a 23 points, Mandela Baledrokadroka 11 points, Te Akau Pumipi 8 points

Photo essay here

Previous encounters at the annual Saint Kentigern Sports Exchange proved to be thrillers and this year’s game was no exception, with another close contest between evenly matched sides.

Senior players Mandela Baledrokadroka and Xjana Luamanuvae-Su’a played at pace and led the early scoring efforts for MAGS. The Saint Kentigern players were equal to the task and there was little to separate the two teams after the first quarter.

The second quarter provided MAGS with the opportunity to debut some new players and they played important cameo roles. Saint Kentigern suddenly found their rhythm and surged forward, holding a handy lead at half time.

Half time score: Saint Kentigern 33 – MAGS 28

Both sides were showing signs of fatigue, having played a regular season match the evening before. The teams continued to trade baskets in the second half but these did not come easy with a miserly 15 points being scored between the teams in the third quarter.

The final quarter turned into a sprint to the end, complete with photo finish. In the opening minutes, Te Akau Pumipi scored two baskets in quick succession, breathing life back into the match as the scores leveled. The last seven minutes were a rollercoaster ride with every steal and turnover potentially winning or losing the match.

Saint Kentigern looked supremely confident when they broke the deadlock with a three pointer with only 2 minutes to go. They did not break the resolve of the MAGS team which struck back to retake the lead with 1 minute to go. Mandela Baledrokadroka scored the deciding basket to clinch the match with 13 seconds remaining.

The entire team played expert, aggressive defence to hold on for an ugly, scrappy win, befitting the intensity of the occasion.

v Westlake Boys High School
5 May, 2017, at MAGS
MAGS loses 72-78

Top scorers: Xjana Luamanuvae-Su’a 16 points, Jonty Vink 14 points, Te Akau Pumipi 11 points

A largely new lineup for MAGS faced tough opposition taking on Westlake Boys in their opening match of the season.

Both sides seemed a little rusty as scoring was sluggish to start. Neither side was able to make a decisive breakthrough and both teams had trouble finishing off scoring opportunities. A three pointer from Cole Pocock in the dying seconds of the first quarter allowed MAGS to take a slight edge.

Te Akau Pumipi typified an aggressive and confident approach from MAGS in the second half as they threatened to break away. A much-needed timeout allowed Westlake Boys to reorganise their efforts and they struck back quickly to keep the game in the balance.

Half time score: MAGS 42 – Westlake 37

The third quarter started well for MAGS with Jonty Vink towering over the opposition in defence. He also proved surprising nimble as he went around the Westlake players to go on a scoring spree. However, Westlake Boys proved methodical and patient in their approach and they took a narrow lead going in to the final quarter.

Despite trailing on the scoreboard, MAGS was proving to be a match for one of the stronger teams in the competition. The game was in the balance for most of the quarter with multiple players sharing the scoring honours to keep the scores even.

Ultimately a combination of fatigue and foul trouble was telling and Westlake proved better at handling the pressure. MAGS was increasingly struggling to break through the Westlake defence and the players were finding themselves fouled for their efforts. Westlake ended up closing out the match in the last few minutes.

There were many promising signs in this performance given the team’s lack of pre-season matches and new player dynamics. MAGS captain Mandela Baledrokadroka praised the “positive efforts” of all the players in the team, setting an example for the season to come.

MAGS’ Premier Girls Basketball team exceeded expectations in beating three regional champion teams to come 2nd in New Zealand at the NZSS Basketball Championships in Palmerston North from 26 September-1 October.

As icing on the cake, Co-Captains Sharne Pupuki-Robati and Rhyannon Poto were selected for the Tournament Team. The girls also became NZ Under 16 representatives this year.

The team almost didn’t attend the national championships after coming 5th in the Auckland Regional qualifying tournament. But having earlier come 2nd in the Greater Auckland Championships they decided to give Nationals a shot, and came away thrilled with their success.

They won every game on the way to the final, despite being placed in the “pool of death” with Zone 1 winners Westlake Girls High School and Zone 3 winners St Mary’s College of Wellington. Team manager Ms Vaimoana Va’ai said that with every win the girls grew in self-belief, triumphing over Greater Auckland champions Auckland Girls Grammar School 75-58 in the semi-final.

In the final against St Peter’s Cambridge the young MAGS team kept pace with the 2015 champions, but the experience of the St Peter’s team came through in the end to seal the win 53-68.

With only one player leaving the team this year, Ms Va’ai says the girls are excited to build on their success in 2017.

“The MAGS girls were the fairytale story of the championships,” says Ms Va’ai. “It’s amazing how far self-belief can push you, along with awesome support from coaches and family.”

Thanks to Ms Va’ai, Head Coach Mr Hori Poto and Assistant Coach Ms Julie Kelman-Poto, and all the families for their support through the season.

Championship results:

v Westlakewon 70-56
v St Mary’s Wellingtonwon 56-52
v Rangitotowon 65-60
v Christchurch Girlswon 88-56
v Middleton Grangewon 93-56
QF v Melville (Hamilton)won 76-55
SF v Auckland Girlswon 75-58
Final v St Peter’s Cambridgelost 53-68
NZ Runners-Up

26 September – 1 October, Palmerston North

At the National Championships, MAGS was placed in a tough pool with some of the top teams from around the country. The team fancied their chances against Auckland Grammar and played with aggressive intent in their first match. The first quarter was an even contest but strong defensive pressure proved telling. MAGS was unable to take their scoring opportunities in the second quarter, allowing Auckland Grammar to get away.

The situation was reversed in the second match against Christ’s College with MAGS dominating in all facets of the game. Michael Gardner and Trent Kimiangatau led the scoring efforts while Jonty Vink was vital in securing defensive rebounds.

The team made life difficult for themselves against a strong St Pat’s, Kilbirnie side, finding themselves 19 points down in the first half. When proper defensive principles were applied, an epic comeback ensued. MAGS quickly turned the deficit into a 10 point lead and never looked back, toppling the top qualifier from the lower North Island.

MAGS had one last pool match but needed a big win to break into the top 8 grouping. The game against New Plymouth Boys’ was close until the final quarter when a burst of three pointers from the opposition halted the team’s progress.

The team was unable to break into the top 8 grouping and once again had to settle for being in the grouping of 9 – 16. MAGS rebounded strongly from this setback and won all their remaining matches. The spirit of the team was best exemplified by John-Afi Stowers who seemingly couldn’t miss a shot against Hillcrest High.

The heroics in that match set the scene for a rematch against St Pat’s, Kilbirnie to play for 9th and 10th, indicating the high level of competition in the pool. Although they were clearly motivated to avenge their loss in pool play, MAGS was able to close out a tight contest which was only decided in the last seconds.

MAGS finished 9th overall with a 6 win, 2 loss record for the tournament. Captain Michael Gardner was in sublime form, ably leading the team, averaging 20 points per game. This year he was selected for the New Zealand Junior Tall Blacks.

Championship results:

v Auckland Grammarlost 78-89
v Christ’s Collegewon 82-67
v St Patrick’s College (Kilbirnie)won 60-51
v Nelson Collegewon 69-59
v New Plymouth Boys Highlost 55-81
v Scot’s Collegewon 68-56
v Hillcrest Highwon 103-71
v St Patrick’s College (Kilbirnie)won 63-60
Final placing: 9th

31 August – 3 September

North Shore Events Centre

Top scorers: Michael Gardner 155 points, Jonty Vink 75 points, Trent Kimiangatau 55 points

The Auckland Regional Tournament features the best teams from the Auckland and Northland region. At stake is qualification to the National Championships in Palmerston North for the top 7 teams.

MAGS were untroubled in their opening match against an unknown Southern Cross team. Solid defensive efforts forced shot clock violations and Southern Cross were completely starved of possession.

In the second match, after a slow start, a second half scoring blitz saw MAGS dominate in all areas of the game. The team breezed past Whangaparaoa College, posting another large winning score.

As expected, day two would represent more of a challenge. MAGS was wary of a strong showing from St Peter’s College as they are the Open grade champions this year. Keen to stamp their authority, MAGS raced out to a 23-3 lead after the first quarter. There was little St Peter’s could do and they had no answers to the team’s offensive efforts. This win ensured MAGS would go through to the quarter-finals.

An epic clash ensued for top of the pool and a more advantageous path forward. Rosmini was justifiably confident having recently won the Premier grade. MAGS put up a determined effort and baskets were traded, keeping the game close. The turning point came in the third quarter when MAGS was outscored 26 – 13. The team showed determination to put up a brave fight and win the fourth quarter, but the damage was done and the match lost.

The team faced a tough quarter-final match against Westlake Boys who finished top of their pool. Another close encounter developed between the evenly matched teams. MAGS had fought well to close the gap to 4 points with only four minutes to go. However, a momentary loss of focus proved costly as Westlake Boys piled on 7 unanswered points in a 1 minute scoring spree to effectively seal the win.

The final day saw the best and worst of the team. A lack of effort on defence and a lack of aggression on offence allowed Kelston Boys to get the better of MAGS to claim an upset win. On the brink of elimination, a fired up team found another gear and a sense of pride to completely rout Whangarei Boys High in their final match, securing 7th place and qualification to the National Championships.

Although the overall placing can only be described as disappointing, the team now has one final chance to show the full extent of their skills and the content of their character at the National Championships later in September. This is the third consecutive year MAGS has qualified, which is an achievement in itself. The tough lessons learned during the regional tournament, if heeded, should hold the team in good stead in their ultimate challenge ahead.


MAGS 92Southern Cross 23
MAGS 83Whangaparaoa 48
MAGS 84St Peters 41
Rosmini 65MAGS 51
Westlake Boys 73MAGS 60
Kelston Boys 71MAGS 58
MAGS 107Whangarei Boys 30
Final placing7th