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St Hilda’s Collegiate had its title prospects extinguished in a disappointing second quarter yesterday morning.
The team needed to win both its matches to progress to the semifinals of the New Zealand Secondary Schools Championships being staged in Rotorua and made a bright start against Howick College.
It led 10-8 at the first break but the game took a dramatic turn in the second period, with Howick outscoring its opponent 14-3.
St Hilda’s confidence took a heavy blow and the second half of the game was a washout, with Howick cruising to an emphatic 40-21 win.
The loss left St Hilda’s entrenched at the bottom of section E.
It played Waikato Diocesan School for Girls in the evening and was well beaten, 42-23.
While St Hilda’s is out of contention, the school finished 11th last year and can still place as high as seventh today if it wins its remaining game.
That would represent a solid achievement for the South Island champion. The team had targeted a top-six finish but has had some setbacks at the tournament. It lost the services of key defender Mariah Nelson to an ankle injury on day two, and star shooter Georgia Heffernan has been carrying a painful ankle sprain.
The gulf in class between the top North Island teams and the leading South Island sides was evident, St Hilda’s coach Lana Morrison said.
Hers was the only South Island team to make it into the top eight.
"They have tougher competition more regularly and they have a slightly different style than we do," Morrison said.
"But I think the girls should feel very proud of what they have achieved."