Wellington Girls’ College netball and basketball teams join forces

If you can’t beat them, join them.

The Wellington Girls’ College senior netball and basketball teams have more than a few players in common.

The two squads also do their weekly conditioning sessions together.

It helps reduce the workload for those who turn out for both teams, in an era when the leading school athletes have probably never had more demands on their time.

“We work in well together and it benefits both squads,” basketball coach Steve Graham said.

The Wellington Girls’ basketball team dominated the Wellington competition last year and three of their leading players – Tegan Graham, Lyric Dixon and Caitlin Grice – are also in the netball team.

The netball team will be in the limelight next Monday, in their televised clash against Wellington East in a quarter-final of the national college knockout competition. It will also serve as a curtain-raiser to the Pulse-Tactix game at Te Rauparaha Arena.

Wellington Girls’ earned a bye in the second round after a 38-26 win over the lower North Island top seeds Manukura in the opening round, while East, who have three players in the New Zealand secondary schools side, advanced by beating St Mary’s 30-18 and Newlands 29-25.

“It will be a great challenge [against East] and we are very excited about it,” Wellington Girls coach Emma Weenink said.

“There is a lot of talent in the East team and the challenge for us will be to pull together and use all 11 players as a group.

“We took our chances against Manukura but it was virtually a pre-season game. They had a lot of young players and will be much better later in the season.

“But we have rep players and some of the team have been playing together [in the senior team] for three years. The connection is there.”

Three of the Wellington Girls’ squad – Abby Collier, Aliyah De La Mare and Francesca Wotton – are in the Wellington centre under-17 squad and Tianna Rutene is in the under-15 team.

The team is led by goal shoot Bianca van Dyk, daughter of Irene. “Bee [van Dyk] has a very good shooting range,” Weenink said. “She has a wonderful personality, is smart and knows the game well – she has watched quite a lot of netball.”

Dixon will miss Monday’s game through injury but Junior Tall Fern Tegan Graham, who plays at goal attack, is likely to make a significant contribution. “Tegan is very competitive, has a presence on the court and is very hungry for the ball,” Weenink said.

Wellington Girls’, East and St Mary’s all play in the premier grade in the Wellington women’s competition.

“It’s great for the school teams,” Weenink said. “It’s a tough competition and they learn so much playing against clever and more experienced players.”