Basketball: Main key in perfect start for Otago Goldrush

Janet Main. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Janet Main. Photo by Linda Robertson.
The Otago Goldrush defied the odds and won its first two games yesterday, the first day of the Women's Basketball Championship at the Edgar Centre in Dunedin.

Despite missing several frontline players, the team played to its strengths. There was some stellar play from the guards as it beat the Harbour Breeze and the Hutt Valley Flyers.

The Goldrush started the day by winning a close encounter against Harbour 52-49, aided by strong performances from both Janet Main and Soraya Jensen.

Main then continued her strong form into the next game against Hutt Valley, scoring her team's first nine points, before committing two early fouls and being forced to sub off.

Despite Main being on the sideline for the entire second quarter, the team managed to stay composed and the Goldrush led 34-29 at halftime.

Hutt Valley made a run in the third quarter through Jacinta Beckley, who looked the best player on the court for much of the spell.

Beckley combined well with team-mate Bulou Tuisue who hit some well-placed jump shots to claw her team back.

Hutt Valley reduced a nine-point fourth quarter deficit back to one point with less than two minutes left to play.

Tuisue hit a put-back jump shot to get Hutt Valley into the lead by one point with 14 seconds remaining and looked to have stolen victory from a spirited Otago team.

However, the Goldrush inbounded the ball and sent it straight to Jensen, who drove right to the basket for the go-ahead shot to lead 64-63.

Hutt Valley had one last chance but had the ball stolen by Samara Gallaher, who was then fouled.

Gallaher then shot one of two free-throws to end the game and give the Goldrush a 65-63 victory.

Captain Main said she was happy with the way her team played despite missing several top players.

"Everyone stepped up and we started the tournament the way we wanted to," she said.

The two wins means the Goldrush earned automatic entry into the semifinals today and will play the winner of the match between Waitakere West Auckland Rangers and the Hutt Valley Flyers.

The other automatic semifinalists were the Nelson Sparks with two wins yesterday. They will play either the Harbour Breeze or the Taranaki Trojans for a place in the final tomorrow.

- John McKenzie.

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