|Three finals, three draws to button at NI School champs|
Excellent curling, outstanding sportsmanship and unbelievable tension were all present during the conclusion of the 2009 North Island Secondary Schools Curling Championships at Paradice Avondale today.
Remarkably, all three finals – Mixed, Girls and Boys – were decided by a double draw to the button after each was tied when the clock ran out.
The tension started building early in the day when the final pool play matches got under way at 6:00am. Two of the four games were sudden death matches, with the winners earning a place in their respective finals.
Team Sargon from Kelston Boys High School looked comfortably ahead at 6-2 with two ends to play, but Birkenhead College’s Team Kim read a change in the ice conditions well enough to manufacture a huge 4 on the penultimate end and leave the teams even coming home. Kelston got a stone in the house early and then piled the guards in front, and they managed to protect their shot for a narrow 7-6 win. This was Kelston’s third consecutive single-point result and it earned them a Boys’ Final berth later in the morning.
The other knockout game was in the Mixed section and saw Long Bay College Bauer one down coming into the last end against Birkenhead Patel, but with last-stone advantage. Birkenhead were holding two shots with just the skips’ stones to play. Long Bay skip Katie Bauer made no mistake with her first to remove one and cut the deficit down to a single. Her last takeout shot was off target, but the curling gods were on her side as a ricochet removed the final Birkenhead stone for Bauer to score 3 and advance to the final.
Favourites Epsom Girls Grammar Farley leapt out to an 8-1 lead after just four of the eight scheduled ends against Henderson High Taylor and looked to be in total control. Henderson didn’t give up and scored one on each of the next three ends, but this still left them four down as they headed into the final end. However, they piled stones into the house and somehow guarded them well enough to score the four they needed to force a tied match (after a measure for the fourth), which meant a single-player draw to the button was needed to get a result.
The pressure told on both teams as their shots were heavy and went through the house, forcing another single-stone tiebreaker. Brittany Taylor put her second attempt for Henderson High to within a metre of the button, and that proved good enough as the Epsom stone was again just a touch too heavy.
Massey High Powlesland kept Long Bay Bauer scoreless for the first three ends as they eased out to a 4-0 lead, but Bauer struck back with a 3 before Massey replied with a single. Lengthy shot decisions meant that the sixth end would be the last before time ran out, and Bauer scored the two she needed there for the tie and to force another draw to the button to find a winner.
Again the first attempts were off target from both skips, but Bauer put her second attempt just inside the four-foot ring. Unfortunately it was inadvertently moved before it could be officially measured, meaning Massey had every right to ask that it be replayed.
Showing great sportsmanship though they were happy to let it stand, and umpire Liz Matthews agreed but advised that if the Massey stone ended up around the same distance from the button a further replay would be necessary. Unfortunately for Massey their attempt again fell short, and the title went to Long Bay.
Top qualifiers Long Bay Steele conceded two in the first end against Kelston Boys Sargon. They then kept their opponents scoreless for four consecutive ends to lead 4-2 with only enough time to play another two ends. Team Sargon responded with a three to lead by one point. In the final end the house had been cleared with just one stone from each team still to play, and Kelston skip Brett Sargon put his final shot just behind the button and appeared to have the advantage.
However in another display of great sportsmanship – and in the true spirit of curling – one of the Kelston sweepers advised his opponents that he had burnt the stone (touched it with his broom) as it entered the house, so the stone was removed from play. That left an open house for Long Bay’s Kieran Grieve to tie the game, and he duly put his last stone inside the circles to score the necessary point.
So for the third time in 10 minutes umpire Liz Matthews was forced to measure a draw to the button to decide a North Island Secondary Schools title. And for the third time in 10 minutes the first attempt from both teams was off target, both just a little too heavy. Grieve’s second attempt for Long Bay was a beauty though, cutting the two foot circle. Remarkably, Brett Sargon’s did the same for Kelston but a careful measure showed that it was swept just a fraction too far, and the championship was Long Bay’s by 2 centimetres.
Monday 31 August 2009
Eleven teams are competing for the Boys', Girls' and Mixed titles at the North Island Secondary Schools Curling Championships for 2009.
The first day's play at Paradice Avondale on Monday 31st August had some upset results, and plenty of games with one-point margins.
A crucial first-round game in the Girls' section saw the lead change hands five times between Henderson High Taylor and Epsom Girls Grammar Kwon. The 8-7 win to Henderson consigned the unlucky losers to a must-win match against the strong Epsom Girls Farley team. However, Team Farley confirmed their favouritism by winning both of their pool matches later in the day to book a spot in Wednesday's final against Henderson.
In two other one-point games in the opening round, Kelston Boys Sargon beat Massey Lawrence 6-5, while in the Mixed section Massey Powlesland edged out Birkenhead Patel 5-4. Long Bay Bauer made an early impresssion with a 7-1 victory against Massey Cooke.
Massey Powlesland caused the first upset of the day in the second round with a good win over Long Bay Bauer, and then made it three-from-three in their pool games when they beat Massey Cooke. Birkenhead Patel and Long Bay Bauer each won their second game to set up a sudden death pool match on Wednesday morning, with the winner meeting Massey Powlesland in the Mixed final.
Long Bay Steele started their campaign in the Boys' competition with a convincing win over Birkenhead Kim and then followed it up with a thrilling last-stone 5-4 win over Kelston Boys. Birkenhead Kim won their second game, and they will play Kelston in the next round to determine Long Bay Steele's opponent in the title match.
The second day's play will get under way at 6:00 am on Wednesday morning, with the finals scheduled to start at 10:00 am.
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