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Winners . . . The North Otago under-19 basketball team, winners of the Southern Regional Qualifiers, are (back, from left) Sam Senior, Taz Selfe, Toby Johnson, Joseph Riwhi, Jack Andrew, Jack Souness, Jonson Heap, coach Ian Cathcart, (front, from left) Lukin Tayles, Ben Tran, Mark Xie and Jacob Bates. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

North Otago has claimed a victory over its big brother, Otago.

The North Otago under-19 basketball team triumphed over its local rival when it won the Southern Regional Qualifiers, held in Queenstown earlier this month.

The event was a tournament to secure qualifications for the national under-19 championships, which will be held in Dunedin from June 1 to 4.

North Otago met Otago A in pool play, with Otago winning by 17 points, but North Otago turned the tables in the final, reaching it after securing victories over Central Otago and Otago B.

Seventeen points down at halftime, it was not looking good for the North Otago team in the final, but it rallied in the second half to claim an 82-78 victory over Otago A.

North Otago under-19 coach Ian Cathcart said he believed Otago A was beatable after the pool game.

“The boys just had a blinder in the second half. To come back like that was awesome,” Cathcart said.

Because it was an under-19 tournament, teams could field players who had left school, but North Otago’s side was made up entirely of Waitaki Boys’ High School and St Kevin’s College pupils.

“Otago had a couple of university guys from Auckland which made it that much better for us.

“We don’t have anyone coming in from out of town – it’s all local boys.

“It is quite a young side, with a lot of year 12 players, so most will be back next year.

Cathcart was reluctant to single out players, but said Lukin Tayles and Jack Andrews performed exceptionally well in the final.

“The whole team stepped up at different points in the tournament and that was probably the key thing in the end.”

The tournament’s top two placegetters qualified for nationals, so North Otago had already qualified regardless of the final result.

But the higher a team qualifies the better its seeding.

“If we finish at the top eight it will be a good effort.

“The bigger teams like Auckland and Canterbury will be tough, but it will be a good experience for the boys, and it’s just down the road.”