North Otago’s fabulous Tongan sisters were to the fore as Waitaki Girls’ High School had a creditable finish at the annual South Island secondary schools netball tournament in Dunedin last week.
Waitaki Girls’ started and finished in style to finish 13th in A grade, a decent effort at one of New Zealand sport’s biggest tournaments.
That effort was put in perspective by the fact the tournament was won by Christchurch glamour school Villa Maria College, which beat the Oamaru school by just four goals in pool play.
Having qualified for the top 16 after pool games, Waitaki Girls’ had a luckless run in crossover play.
Losses to St Margaret’s College (36-28), Nelson College (42-41) and St Hilda’s Collegiate (39-29) forced Waitaki Girls’ into the 13th-16th playoffs.
There, the Georgie Salter-coached side beat Cashmere High School 39-23 to qualify for the playoff for 13th, where it beat Dunstan High School 38-35.
Taneisha Fifita, as expected, shone for Waitaki Girls’ High School at goal attack.
The team’s star player continued her wonderful year, which included playing for the Southern Steel in the ANZ Premiership, by being named in the talented players squad at the end of the tournament.
She formed an instinctive shooting combination with younger sister Losa, who wore the goal shoot bib and showed impressive composure for a year 10 pupil in the face of some vigorous defence.
The third Fifita sister, Maikale, stood out on defence, while captain Nicole Lowen was a powerful influence for Waitaki Girls’ at wing defence and goal keep.
St Kevin’s College improved on its 27th placing last year to finish 22nd in A grade.
St Kevin’s sniffed the top 16 but could not recover from poor starts in two key games in pool play.
The school had crossover wins over Verdon College (39-26) and Avonside Girls’ High School (41-26), but a 43-29 loss to Marlborough Girls’ College.
A 35-31 win over Craighead Diocesan sent St Kevin’s to the playoff for 21st, where it was pipped 29-27 by Central Southland College.
Molly Kay led St Kevin’s from the front with a power of work at goal attack, Laura Preston and Gemma Dowling were solid in the midcourt, and Hannah Cunningham was consistent at goal defence.
St Kevin’s will have to rebuild before the tournament moves to Nelson next year as it loses six influential seniors.
Waimate High School had an excellent tournament, reaching the C grade final, where it was beaten 27-25 by Aparima College.