Two well-disciplined South Canterbury junior netball teams enjoyed one of their best age-group tournaments in many years.
At the Netball Mainland UNder-15 Championships in Nelson, South Canterbury Under-14 won the B-grade tournament while South Canterbury Under-15 also finished runner-up in the A-grade.
Netball Mainland covers from the Waimate north to Nelson, including the West Coast and featured 21 teams across the two age grades, indoors at Saxton Stadium.
The Under-14 team lost its tournament opener to Nelson 27-23 after being down 7-1 early on, before climbing back into the game.
A determined South Canterbury then went on an unbeaten four-game run, getting past Selwyn 29-22, Motueka 48-8 and Marlborough 27-14. It then had to beat North Canterbury to make the semifinals, which it did 28-20.
In the semifinal, South Canterbury easily accounted for Christchurch Under-14 White, 33-23, to advance to the final.
There it faced the same Nelson team it had lost to in the opening round but the result was far better. In a nail-biter, it triumphed 27-25.
South Canterbury got away to a flyer in the final up 10-4 after the first quarter and led 15-11 at halftime. An ankle injury to Mia Daly in the third quarter interrupted the team’s momentum and allowed Nelson back into the game.
South Canterbury, however, regrouped and never let the lead slip, notching up an exciting win.
Two South Canterbury players, goal defence Alex Brown and goal attack Annie Tregenza made their grade’s tournament team.
Lucy Crawford was also a rock for the team at goal shoot, while Lydia Hanrahan had a very good tournament at wing attack.
Coach Amanda O’Brien said she was delighted with her team’s efforts against some very good opposition.
“The tournament rules meant every player had to spend at least 50% of the time on court and the girls responded very well.
“Also it was tricky when we had both had injured and ill girls.”
South Canterbury Under-15 also had a very strong tournament in the top grade. The side, coached by Deborah Crawford, lost its opening game to Canterbury Under-15 Black 40-27 before getting into its stride.
It then beat Canterbury Under-14 Black 38-27, cruised past Nelson Under-15 Yellow 44-24 and beat Mid Canterbury A 33-24.
That set up a semifinal with an unbeaten Selwyn Under-15 team but South Canterbury played extremely well to win 38-34 and make the final.
It then faced a replay of their opening game against Canterbury Under-15 Black.
It was a much closer contest but South Canterburyfell just short, going down 40-36.
Kate Crawford was South Canterbury’s MVP over the tournament with some fine efforts in the shooting circle.
Lily Shortus also played very well and led the team’s defensive efforts while Amelia McKeown impressed in the midcourt.
Captain Bri Grace led by example throughout the tournament.
Crawford said it was a fantastic team effort, with all the players contributing.
“Everyone stepped up and we also showed very good discipline. I was proud of the girls’ efforts.”
Both teams improved one place on their 2018 placings.