Let’s Groove – QMC Wins National 3×3 Title
The energy of Tawhirikura Doyle bristles down the phone when she reflects on the National Secondary Schools 3×3 basketball triumph by Queen Margaret College (QMC) last week.
The QMC team of Naomi Sopoaga, Lilly Taulelei, Lauren Tewhata, Holly Morgan and Doyle recovered from seventh place after the first day of pool play to defeat Hamilton’s, Fraser High School 9-8 in the final and capture national honours for the first time.
Lilly and Namoi were the only girls with previous 3×3 experience which runs for a dozen minutes on a floor less than half the size of a generic basketball court.
Despite a lack of experience lock down might have provided Doyle with an unusual advantage. She is one of three sisters and two brothers. Basketball scrimmages were an effective way kill time last March.
“It was a very entertaining household. My brothers like to think they’re better at basketball than me but I doubt it,” Doyle laughed.
“Some of the family game nights were deadly. The tension was high. It taught me to deal with my nerves better.”
QMC needed to show composure after a jumbled first day which left them ranked seventh out of ten teams, dropping two their first three games.
“We had no team practices or set rotations, struggling to find our feet. The more we learned about each other, the more we were able to switch things up.”
“I’m a smaller player so I like to play quick, use the space to cut and weave a bit more.”
“When were relaxed, we express ourselves.”
QMC would win their next five games leaving them with a slim chance of making the top four of their pool and qualifying for the finals. What happened next was remarkable.
“We had to beat Rotorua by 12 to make the finals but our coaches didn’t tell us. We played our best game of the tournament and won by 18-4. Rotorua was a tough team. They fought until the end and were neck and neck with Fraser and Hamilton.”
“Fraser and Hamilton lost their last games and because we’d beaten them earlier in the tournament we ending up topping our group for the finals.”
By now QMC was rocking. A highlight of the tourney was the van and sideline soundtrack.
“Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, Bruno Mars, Hamilton the musical. We had so much fun, even the coaches joined in our singing. Some of the funniest moments of the tournament were watching the videos of games and listening to what the coaches had say. We were serious, but at our best when not taking things too seriously if that makes sense.”
In the final QMC figured they’d have the measure of Fraser High School. Victors in the group encounter Fraser lost an injured player, contained a novice rookie, and a former QMC pupil. It didn’t quite go according to plan.
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. Their best player dropped a couple of three-pointers which mean we had to claim ourselves down and reset.
“Playing catch up basketball is not the best basketball, but we marked up tighter, got some turnovers, and took the opportunities we needed. I’m still buzzing we won.”
A house prefect of Te Atiawa (Tribe) and Ngati Tawhirikura (Hapu) extraction she speaks fluent Maori and plays up to a handful of sports including netball and volleyball.
All the 3×3 girls are expected to feature in the Premier basketball team later in the winter.
QMC Nationals Results
10-15 vs St Andrew’s College
13-6 vs Fraser High School
8-10 vs Westlake Girls’ High School
7-5 vs Epsom Girls’ Grammar
12-10 vs Rangitoto College
11-9 vs Hastings Girls High
18-4 vs Rotorua Girls’ High
20-16 vs Hamilton Girls’ High
18-9 vs Tauranga Girls’ College
QF: 13-11 vs Nga Taiatea Wharekura
SF: 12-9 vs Waimea College
GF: 9-8 vs Fraser High School
-Story Courtesy of College Sport Media