Penese key in St Mary’s thumping success
St Mary’s College have a Porirua connection in their early season dominance in the Wellington girls’ premier basketball championship.
A desire to improve on last year’s second-place in the Wellington region and become a national force is the underlying motivation for the talented squad.
Captain and under-19 Tall Ferns representative Sariah Penese, 16, from Porirua, said losing the Wellington final last year would mean they had plenty of motivation to continue their impressive form. Last year’s team was very young, with half the team made up of year-9s.
The Porirua teen led from the front in the game against Hutt Valley High School on Friday night with her 26 points helping them to a 74-51 win.
The result left them with a perfect record after four rounds, which included a 92-48 demolition of defending champions Wellington Girls’ College.
Penese, who formerly attended Brandon Intermediate, has tasted success on an international stage, but said winning a Wellington championship for St Mary’s would be a great achievement.
‘‘That would be the best. Basketball at our school isn’t really well-known. Winning premier this year would mean a lot.’’
Beating the defending champions had been a great result for the team. ‘‘It was pretty good. A lot of their seniors had left their team last year, but they still had a good core. It was good to put them away.’’
Coach Nixon Penese said ensuring his players were doing well off the court was equally as important as their success on it.
‘‘What I do like is knowing they are doing well at home with mum and dad and their siblings. Also, that they are doing well academically. It’s about building culture within the team, and getting them to trust and respect each other,’’ he said.
Making sure every player was valued in the team environment and creating positive moral was vital.
‘‘I try really hard to spread it right across so everyone plays in each game. A champion team is a team that has a good bench. We want everybody to contribute.’’
St Mary’s last premier basketball title was in 1994, and coach Penese recognised the opportunity to build a lasting legacy for the school.
In other results from round four, Tawa College beat Queen Margaret College 63-53, Wellington Girls’ College beat Wellington East Girls’ College 100-50 and Aotea College won a thriller against Naenae College 80-78.
Scots College continues to lead the way in the boys’ premier grade, remaining unbeaten after a 64-62 win over Onslow College. In the other matches, St Pats Town beat Wellington College 78-64, Rongotai College beat Aotea College 72-65 and Hutt Valley High School beat St Pats Silverstream 75-68.