Westlake Girls High to meet MAGS in Pita Pit NZ Secondary Schools Netball Champs Grand Final
Westlake Girls’ High School produced a remarkable fourth quarter to claim a major secondary schools scalp and with it a shot at a maiden national crown.
The April Ieremia-coached side looked to have succumbed to a tummy bug and a classy Epsom Girls’ Grammar School in their must win match in Timaru on Thursday, but instead snatched a 41-40 victory to launch them into the Pita Pit NZ Secondary School Netball Championship final.
Westlake finished on the same points as their opponent but their one-goal win over Epsom in pool play earned them a place in Friday’s grand final at the Southern Trust Events Centre.
They will meet five-time champions Mount Albert Grammar School which needed victory in its last outing of the day to ensure its spot in the last two.
Epsom Girls’ looked to be cruising towards a place in the tournament decider with a 36-24 lead at the three-quarter mark, before Westlake Girls’ turned the tables with a 17-4 performance in the fourth spell.
Momentum shifted early in the spell with Westlake netting 10 unanswered goals – another run of five goals in the last two minutes of play gave them the match-winning lead.
Goal attack Kylie McGahan was influential in the deciding quarter as she landed all of her 11 attempts at goal, while goal shooter Angeline Godinet’s radar was also faultless.
Wing defence Ellie Minton and goal keeper Rachael Webster also picked up five gains between them in a crucial last quarter as Westlake again showed composure for the win.
It was a tough route to the final for Westlake which went into extra time to beat St Hilda’s Collegiate on Wednesday before suffering a one-goal loss to Manukura, 37-38, on Thursday morning.
Their finals opponent had just as tough a pathway to follow into the final with Mount Albert Grammar School (MAGS) needing victory over Saint Kentigern College to give them a chance at a sixth title.
A strong start set them up for a 40-30 win over Saint Kentigern as they dominated in all areas.
The comfortable win came at the end of a tough day for MAGS after they needed a goal in the last 10 seconds of play to pip Hamilton Girls’ High School in its second pool match.
They led by two goals heading into the fourth quarter but with the scores locked at 33-33; it came down to Crystal Munro’s 23rd goal of the match to net the win.
With another title in their sights, they should go into the final as favourites after beating Westlake Girls’ by 18 goals at last month’s Upper North Island Championships.
But Westlake’s ball speed, determined defence and self-belief has seen it surprise many during the week leaving it as true contenders for the national crown.
Meanwhile, Epsom Girls’ Grammar and Saint Kentigern College will now go head-to-head for the third and fourth play-off with both this game and the final to be streamed live on the Netball New Zealand website