The Rotorua Lady Geysers and Platinum Homes Taranaki Thunder both recorded wins as the inaugural D-League got underway at Pulman Arena on Friday.
The Lady Geysers beat the Tauranga City Coasters 73-68 in a game that could have gone either way. The second contest was far more clear-cut, with the Thunder getting the better of the Northland Phoenix 69-33.
Despite scoring six points and grabbing eight rebounds it wasn’t a happy 23rd birthday for Kaatia Watene, as the Coasters went down to Rotorua Lady Geysers.
It was a game of fluctuating fortunes as the Coasters led by 16 points (39-35) early in the third quarter and were still six points ahead with four minutes to play before the Geysers finished with a full head of steam.
Awatea Leach was the star performer for the Lady Geysers, stuffing the stat sheet with a team-high 17 points to accompany seven rebounds and five steals. Veshae Asaua-Wilkinson (11 points) and Dekoda Te Autu (10 points) were also notable contributors.
For the Coasters Kaitlyn Morrell scored a game-high 18 points, Chelseah Savage produced 16 points whilst Laura Kuka came up with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds
In the second game the scores were tied at 17 points apiece two-minutes into the second period, but the Thunder scored the next 15 points to break the game open and were never threatened as they pulled away to beat the Phoenix 69-33.
Vanessa Weir produced 16 points and 13 rebounds, Auburn University bound Raquel Sampson scored a dozen whilst Caitlin O’Connell and captain Jenna Kensington scored 10 points apiece for the Thunder.
Aleesha Coulter (9 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals) was at the heart of all good things for Phoenix but they were well beaten on this occasion.
Coasters 68 – Kaitlyn Morrell 18p, Laura Kuka 17p/11r, Chelseah Savage 16p/4a, Kaatia Watene 6p/8r
Lady Geysers 73 – Awatea Leach 17p/7r, Veshae Asaua-Wilkinson 11p, Dekoda Te Autu 10p, Sydney Neale 9p, Waiata Jennings 9p/8r/5a7s, Kararaina Pene 7p/11r
Thunder 69 – Vanessa Weir 16p/13r, Raquel Sampson 12p, Caitlin O’Connell 10p/5s, Jenna Kensington 10p, Teghan Omelvena-Ngarai 8p, Lauren Tewhata 6p/12r
Phoenix 33 – Aleesha Coulter 9p/8r, Shakani Murray 8p, Te Rina Cameron-Tana 6p
All four teams will play twice on Saturday with the top two teams contesting Sunday’s D League Final at 2.30pm.
Remainder of Sal’s NBL Finals Weekend schedule
Saturday 5 December
8:00am Taranaki Thunder vs Tauranga City Coasters
10:00am Rotorua Lady Geysers vs Northland Phoenix
3:00pm Northland Phoenix vs Tauranga City Coasters
5:00pm Taranaki Thunder vs Rotorua Lady Geysers
7:30pm Otago Gold Rush v Waikato Wizards (18IN18 semi-final)
Sunday 6 December
2:30pm D-League Grand Final (1v2)
5:00pm 18IN18 Grand Final