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"B" proud . . . St Kevin's netballers celebrate after winning the B grade final at the South Island secondary schools tournament in Nelson: Back, from left, Tiana Mihaere (assistant coach), Ashley Pink, Laura Dowling, Tivinia Misiloi, Molly Kay, Gemma Dowling, Kate Nally, Kate Mihaere (coach); front, Emma Slater, Whitney Cleveland, Brylee More and Brytnee Firman. Sophie Brien was absent. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

St Kevin’s College coach Kate Mihaere believes there was a simple reason for her side’s success at the South Island secondary schools tournament in Nelson last week.

“We were a genuine team, and that was the absolutely key thing for us.”

St Kevin’s won all eight of its games over four days of intense competition that culminated with a 40-36 win over Westland High School in the B grade final.

After that, inspirational captain Laura Dowling and tireless goal attack Molly Kay were named in the tournament team, and rather than be disappointed other players were overlooked, Mihaere saw it as a sign of the overall strength of the St Kevin’s team.

“To me, the fact that only two players from the winning team were selected was actually testament to how well the team did.

“It’s been a pretty incredible campaign with an amazing bunch of girls.

“They never dropped their heads, at any point in any game, and they were very mentally strong. They pulled through again and again.

“We had one plan, and that was to take the tournament one game at a time. But when people asked what time we’d be coming home, we told them it would be after the final.”

the top three to join fellow Oamaru school Waitaki Girls’ High School in A grade.

Its toughest game was against Darfield High School in a crossover game, Mihaere said.

“We really had to pull together to win that game. It almost felt like a final because the girls were really tested.

“The turning point was when it was 18-14 to them. There was just a shift from a broken centre pass, and our girls put their foot down and we were away.”

St Kevin’s had a relatively young team – just four of the 11 players were year 13 – which suggests the school should be more than competitive in A grade when the tournament moves to Christchurch next year.

Mihaere said a lovely aspect of the tournament was the support St Kevin’s received from Waitaki Girls’.

Half a dozen players from each Oamaru school joined forces in the North Otago under-17 team for a rare appearance at the New Zealand age group championships this year, and Mihaere believed that experience helped both schools at the South Island tournament.