The Waimea College Senior A girls basketball team are South Island champions and will head to the nationals in three weeks. Photo Supplied.

Waimea girls qualify for basketball nationals

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Waimea College may have cruised to victory at the South Island secondary school girls basketball championships in Christchurch last week but coach Ed Book believes the team will need to take “a big step up” for their next assignment.

Waimea was unbeaten at the South Island championships held at Cowels Stadium in Christchurch, winning the final against Rangi Ruru Girls School 63-47. It was only the second time at the tournament that Waimea was tested after a relatively close 82-67 win over Middleton Grange School in the tournament opener.

Although Ed says the team played well to secure its second South Island title in three years after winning in 2104, he is under no illusions that the nationals in Palmerston North from September 26 to October 1 will be a considerably tougher proposition. “It’s going to be a big step up,” Ed says. “The girls played very well in Christchurch which is pleasing but this will be completely different.”

However, Ed is confident the girls are up to the challenge and their chances could be boosted with the return of key player Holly Chandler. Holly was a late withdrawal from the tournament after spraining her ankle in the South Island secondary schools netball tournament in Nelson and will be hoping to recover in time to travel to Palmerston North.

“We’ve had a few girls out so if Holly can come back it could help. We are hoping she will be fit – she is in good hands with her father and I’m sure he’ll do his best to get her fit,” Ed says referring to Holly’s physiotherapist father Lyndon.

Two of Waimea’s stars at the South Island champs were former New Zealand under-16 representatives Amiee Book and Lauryn Hippolite. Year 10 student Kate Dohmen also had a big tournament.

Waimea will be aiming to improve on their 14th placing at last year’s New Zealand secondary schools championships. Waimea boys finished 12th in their basketball tournament in Ashburton, losing their final game to Nayland College 69-55. In other tournaments, Waimea finished 22nd in A grade at the South Island secondary schools netball champs in Nelson. Waimea lost 34-22 to St Peter’s College in the playoff for 21st. In B grade, Garin College beat Nayland College 31-28 in the play-off for 17th while in C grade, Murchison Area School was 15th and Tapawera Area School was 14th.

Waimea College First XI boys football team won division two at the national premier tournament in Papamoa after a 2-1 win over St Peters and also retained the Alex Harvey Industries Challenge Trophy. Waimea College’s First XI girls finished 28th in their national tournament played at Saxton Field.