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.

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