Ashburton College’s A boys’ basketball team thrashed Cathedral College on Tuesday night to nail a spot in the final of the Canterbury secondary schools’ Thomson Trophy division two competition.
The team had home court advantage for their semi-final at the EA Networks Centre and came away with a resounding victory 102-56, with the result never really looking in doubt after a strong start saw them out to a considerable lead early on.
Ashburton College coach Brian Kerr said his side applied their full court zone press this week, and got it right.
“The pressure they created caused numerous turnovers and they raced out to an early 9-2 lead before a time out was called by Cathedral,” Kerr said.
But that did nothing to stop the onslaught as the defensive intensity was relentless, and by the end of the first quarter College led 29–7.
The second quarter continued in the same vein and while finishing let the home side down at times, they were still dominant and went to halftime 51–20 ahead.
The speed of the game increased in the third and it became more open as Cathedral attempted to get back into the game, but College was able to match that challenge and extended its lead further to 77-38.
At the end of a helter-skelter fourth quarter, where both teams enjoyed the open style of play, College had well and truly sealed it, 102–56.
Kerr said his players were a lot more clinical in their approach this week.
“We’d talked about the need to get our zone press right and put on that early pressure, which we did.
“I think we’d almost taken the game away after the first quarter, however we needed to maintain that intensity with our defence, which the boys did for most of the game.”
Kerr said his side’s fast break was again good, and was allowed to function as a result of their defence.
“Our offensive structure worked pretty well when the break wasn’t on. It allowed good options whether it was shooting from the perimeter, forcing the ball inside or driving to the basket,” Kerr said.
“The whole team deserve a pat on the back. Some of the guys did a lot of grunt work defensively which allowed us to ignite our fast break.”
The guard lineup of Marc Juntilla (26 points), Quinn Ritchie (22 points) and Sam Pearce (16 points) were relentless in their defensive work and created many turnovers.
Kerr said Penuel Pantaleon (9 points) was his usual livewire self, into absolutely everything, while Fotu Hala (12 points) played well, especially on the defensive end where he was able to pick off a lot of loose passes as a result of the pressure exerted up front by the guards.
Phoenix Andrew (9 points) was another to shine. Coming off the bench he took his opportunity and was particularly strong on the drive to the basket and was defensively sound.
Kerr said the game was a good confidence booster heading into next week’s final against Papanui High School, who upset the favoured St Thomas’ at home on Tuesday night, 81-78.
The final will be played in Christchurch, at Cowles Stadium, next Tuesday at 4pm.
– Erin Tasker