On what was a blisteringly hot Saturday afternoon in the KZN capital, the Maritzburg College and Westville first basketball teams locked horns in an Alan Paton Memorial Hall packed with vocal supporters.
Prior to the start, both teams lined up for a minute’s silence (feature pic) to honour Westville’s senior deputy headmaster, Mr Nestor Pierides, who had passed away during the week, a man who had done much to build the Westville sports programme.
The clash marked the beginning of the 2019 KZN schools basketball year and as the KZN10.com match preview indicated, this tussle was slated to be a ding-dong affair between two of the KZN10 giants – and it certainly lived up to the hype.
As a Stayers’ side, College beat Westville 64-55 in the 4th term of 2018 so there was much anticipation for the return encounter.
As Maritzburg College MIC basketball Jenny Orchard says: “The shouting captain for 2019 Ollie Zondi ensured that the supporters sang war cries throughout the match and this added to the wonderful atmosphere at the game, also showcasing what schoolboy sport is all about.”
The home side led the first quarter by 2 points and the same score margin at halftime indicates the closeness of this contest.
The third quarter proved to be the game-changer.
The third quarter started with the teams locked in an intense arm wrestle as neither side could really dictate play for any extended period of time. Every time Westville narrowed the gap College would score a couple of quick baskets to maintain a 6- to 7-point lead.
“Up to that point every time College’s offence and defence found synergy they would take the game away from Westville,” Maritzburg College first team basketball coach Zeke Oosthuis told KZN10.com
And it was during one these better spells of play by Maritzburg College that the turning point in the game occurred.
College were in control of the game and placing enormous pressure on Westville to make up their points deficit on the scoreboard.
College stole Westville ball and set off on the fast break, but the layup was unexpectedly missed and in the ensuing tussle College lost the ball to Westville.
On the very next Westville possession, College were again able to manipulate the Westville defence, and a College player broke for another uncontested layup but the point’s opportunity was missed once again.
So, to the Breakdown of Quarters 1 and 2 and 3
1st MC 11 W 9
2nd MC 10 W 8
3rd MC 14 W 13
The air seemed to be sucked out of the building.
“Westville, sensing that College had failed to land the killer blow, took the opportunity and started hunting for offensive rebounds, placing enormous pressure on the College guards to box out all members of the attacking team,” says coach Zeke.
Westville ended this decisive third quarter stronger, with College fighting to keep their lead. The quarter ended with College still holding the Westville team at arm’s length, but the College lead was now a “gettable” 5 points, as opposed to the 9 points is should have been.
Westville started the fourth quarter sensing that they had gained the ascendancy, and a marked feature of the opening minutes of that final quarter was the urgency with which they played.
“Westville, who up to that point had tried to score by running traditional plays for some key players, threw caution to the wind and aggressively attacked the College defence, taking every opportunity to drive to the basket,” says MC coach Zeke Oosthuis.
“College, who had contained Westville quite handily for most of the game, seemed to be thrown by Westville’s confidence and determination, and the lads in Red Black & White committed numerous unnecessary fouls in trying to stop the avalanche of Westville attacks.”
Midway through the 4th and final quarter Westville, behind some inspired play from SA U15 player Ethan Brooke, took the lead and ultimately control of the game.
4th QUARTER A MATCH-CHANGING Westville 19 MC 8
Grade 10 basketballer Ethan showing a great deal of big-match temperament in scoring 2 huge 3-pointers to electrify the Westville fan base, and the outcome saw Westville running out 49-43 winners.
Let’s look at Quarters 1 and 2… Even though College won the jump ball, it was Westville who opened the scoring and maintained the lead for a large part of the first quarter. However, with both good offense and defence the home team bounced back from a scoring drought to end that first quarter 11-9 ahead.
Maritzburg College MIC basketball Jenny Orchard: “Halfway through the 2nd quarter College had built a commanding 12-point lead through executing their game plan effectively.
“But, as was the case in the corresponding fixture in the 4th term, College again lost focus in the remaining minutes of the first half as Kgopotso Matlena of Westville exerted his considerable frame in the post and cut the lead to 2 heading into the break.”
MATCH MUSINGS of MC COACH ZEKE OOSTHUIS
“The anticipated one-on-one match-up between Cameron Best of Westville and Liam van Rensburg of College didn’t scale the heights as much as it potentially could have, as both players had moments of brilliance but otherwise cancelled each other out on the day.
“It will be interesting to see how their seasons progress as they may be the top two wing forwards in KZN this year.
“It was a great advert for the health of KZN basketball as two of the premier teams displayed a high level of basketball. As is the case though with talented and competitive 1st teams the margins for error are very fine – a few opportunities missed or taken can be the difference between winning and losing.
“Down the final stretch Westville made the better decisions and played the big possessions better.”
Westville won the fourth and final quarter by a match-clinching 10-point margin.
“Westville did themselves and their supporters proud, and if the jubilation of the team and boys at the final buzzer is any indicator, this was a match that they really wanted to win and was also a mark of the esteem that they hold Maritzburg College basketball in.
“Maritzburg College, on the other hand, can with reason be left feeling that they let this one get away. After 3 basketball quarters of dominance, they lost the last quarter 19-9, an indicator, possibly, of fitness. A tough lesson to be learned it seems.”
And as Maritzburg College MIC basketball Jenny Orchard says, “Coach Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant once stated, ‘Concentrate on winning the second half’, and this is what the College team need to do for their next game against Hilton College.”
Overall, however, it was a successful day for the Maritzburg College basketball programme, with 16 matches played, College winning 11 and Westville 5.
Coach Zeke looks ahead to Saturday, January 19: “The match-ups offer intriguing story lines. Home side Westville take on the undefeated Michaelhouse team of the 4th [Stayers] term. The corresponding fixture last term was cancelled, so it’s all to play for.”
Maritzburg College make the short journey up the hill to take on Hilton College. Another absolute cracker is in the offing.
ALL THE BASKETBALL RESULTS
* Maritzburg College score first
1st lost 43-49
2nd lost 27-34
3rd won 29-16
16A won 24-17
16B won 38-22
16C won 18-16 extra time
15A lost 24-25
15B won 22-15
15C lost 14-27
15D won 13-10
15E lost 6-11
14A won 40-23
14B won 10-5
14C won 16-6
14D won 6-2
14E won 14-8
14F drew 4-4
MC overall vs Westville
MC 4th vs 5th…… 4th won 29-15
MC 16D vs 16E….. 16E won 22-20
It’s just SECONDS AWAY FROM THE BIG SHOW! Yes, start time in the much-looked-forward-to opening game of the KZN10 schools’ basketball season and all eyes are on the splendid Alan Paton Hall.
Yes folks it’s home side Maritzburg College vs Westville.
KZN10.com asked MC bball coach Zeke Oosthuis a couple of pre-match questions:
Feature image – MC basketball coach Zeke Oosthuis and the army.
“Thanks Jono, it’s great playing Westville as they have a large basketball programme and match us team for team across the board.
“It’s always a tough encounter, 5 years ago as an example MC were number 1 in SA and had just won the prestigious St John’s Johannesburg tournament and we came back and lost to Westville.
“We play them first term and 4th term each year and in 2018 Westville won the first clash with us wining by about 9 points in the fourth term Stayers match.
Those Stayers are back out there today so it’s going to be fascinating. I am not sure if Westville are at full strength but be that as it may a school is only as good as it’s overall basketball programme so we will see.
“Westville coach Byron Tucker has a clear basketball vision; he is no-nonsense and produces tough organised hard teams.
“The Westville basketball brand? Historically a very good shooting outfit, zonal play, big-size players, last while moving more towards a man-to-man style as I like Maritzburg College to play, albeit in a fast up-tempo fashion.
“Westville shoot well from the outside, they are able to clog up the key, and shoot from the outside, while they don’t give away many points from inside the paint.
“I anticipate a tight affair, I am confident the Red Black and Whites of Maritzburg College – buoyed by their home support, can take this one.
“If Westville bring their A game and their top guys are on song – we may have more depth though – MC are in for a tough challenge.
“We take into the game the knowledge that although we lost the last Stayers match of 2018 to the strong Michaelhouse side at Michaelhouse, we came back strongly and a lot of self-belief was bred in that performance.
“The boys need to carry that through today.”
Thanks Zeke – top stuff.
Best wishes to both sides.
An 8-point lead after the first quarter; an 18-point lead at half-time; 11 points ahead going into the final quarter; then the Kearsney College firsts’ wheels almost came off.
The Westville firsts basketball team were not done yet; upping the pace they won the final stanza 28-20 but in the end it was just a three-pointer too far to make up; the Kearsney lads edging them out by 77-74 to take the honours.
Tracey van den Aardweg feature image: Ryan Wimbush of Kearsney College firsts and SA U16.
It was a classic finale to the 2018 basketball year.
The top performers for Kearsney were Dillon Wimbush (35 points) and Max Hastings-Brown (12).
The big numbers for Westville came from Cameron Best (20 points), Jude Joseph (12) and Jed Hayman (11).
Kearsney started well, finding fluidity on offence and scoring freely.
Westville didn’t appear to have an answer for the Kearsney offence, but also managed to score easily on Kearsney’s defence.
Kearsney closed out the first quarter 23-15 ahead.
The second quarter was much the same, with Kearsney outscoring their opponents, but also allowing easy baskets to be scored against them.
Kearsney went into half time with a commanding 43-25 lead.
There was not much change in the third quarter, with Kearsney comfortably 57-46 ahead.
The fourth quarter was a different ball game.
Westville upped the tempo and found their scoring rhythm.
Kearsney made some silly defensive errors and allowed Westville to shoot free throws and cut significantly into their lead, while not being able to make their own free throws.
The quarter almost saw Kearsney lose a game in which they were in total control for most of the match.
It was a valuable lesson to the Kearsney players not to underestimate their opposition and to remain focused until the final whistle.
Kearsney managed to hold on to a 77-74 win.
* Two Kearsney basketball players, Max Hastings-Brown and Ryan Wimbush, have been selected for the SA U16 basketball team to participate in the African Union Sports Council Zone 5 Games, to be held in Gaborone, Botswana during December.
EARLY deficit, great comeback, one point in it at half-time, decisive third quarter to the hosts, and just 3 points in it at the end.
Billed as a KZN box office winner, so it proved to be.
Feature image: Kearsney’s Dillon Wimbush takes the high road. Tracey van den Aardweg
Kearsney suffering a 0-7 deficit, pulling back to within 2 points, taking the second quarter by 3 points, going into half-time 25-24 up.
A great St Charles College third quarter re-established a 6-point lead and despite Kearsney winning the fourth quarter, it was a case of one single three-pointer shy of parity.
On Saturday Kearsney travelled to St Charles for the penultimate match of the 2018 basketball season.
The oppressive heat in the indoor centre didn’t deter either team, who had been relishing the clash.
The game started well for St Charles, as they raced out to a 7-point lead with Kearsney not being able to halt the Saints’ offence onslaught or score themselves.
Kearsney weathered the storm, managing to make up the deficit with some determined defence and accurate shooting, leaving the visitors marginally behind hosts St Charles by 13-11 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter belonged to Kearsney, but it was clear to the spectators who had braved the heat that this was going to be a close contest.
Half-time had Kearsney 25-24 ahead, setting up the prospect of a closely contested second half.
St Charles looked to be in control at the end of the third quarter, having managed to outscore the visiting Kearsney team by 19 points to 12.
True to the Kearsney team’s character, they continued to fight hard and managed to win the final quarter 14-11 but it was not enough to secure the game.
St Charles shaded visitors Kearsney by 3 points in the final analysis.
The return match next term promises to be a good one and KZN10.com wishes both sides well in the new year’s first school term of basketball.
Kearsney’s top guns were Siyabonga Mpontshane (15 points), Loyiso Mabude, Dillon Wimbush and Kyle Trail (8 points each).
THE St Charles College basketball fraternity were all smiles after the final round of Saturday fixtures this year, on 10 November 2018.
Saint won the majority of matches against Kearsney College, including the 1st team match (54-51), the 2nds, U15A and U14A games.
Dean Riley feature image: The chuffed Saints basketball team after a job well done.
The Saints first team win by 3 points owed much to the quality of their benchies.
Here is a take on home side the Saints 1st team game, as reported by head coach Darren Holcomb:
“Both teams have long been considered as two of the best basketball schools in the province and therefore the tension was high as the schools clashed for the third time this season.
“The two previous encounters had come down to the wire with the Saints winning both by single-figure margins.
“Saturday’s clash was also extremely close from the outset as both teams jostled for supremacy.
“Both St Charles College and Kearsney used a variation of zone defence, man defence and full-court presses in order to force turnovers.
“After 37 minutes of play, there was only a single point separating the two teams.
“However, the difference between the two teams had to be their bench.
“The St Charles College bench provided quality back-up minutes, which allowed the starters to rest. They also provided important scoring to ensure that the Saints maintained their small lead.
“With less than a minute on the clock, Lifa Jafta knocked down a massive three-point shot, which gave the home team the breathing space required to secure their third win of the season.
“The St Charles College team is young and are sure to continue improving in the first term of 2019 as they look to take on the best in the country at the annual St John’s College Johannesburg Tournament.”
KZN10.com is looking forward to following the progress of Saints and Kearsney basketball next year.
Maritzburg College hosted Westville for the return match. Both schools fielded their Stayers’ team and College was determined to record a win having lost in the first term.
The excessive heat certainly was going to be a factor for both sides and as College had played Carter on Friday they would have to dig deep in order to secure a victory.
Feature image (file pic): It was a great KZN10.com Super Saturday for Maritzburg College basketball with just one loss to Westville on the day.
The home team won the jump ball but Westville put the first points on the board from a penalty shot.
The 1st quarter was a rather dull affair as both sides struggled to find any sort of rhythm but College did end the quarter with a slender lead of 3 points (15 – 12).
It was in the 2nd period that College raced ahead with Zaneliswa Khoza and Liam Janse van Rensberg each sinking a 3-point shot which seemed to give the team the momentum they needed.
During this quarter College outscored Westville 16 points to 7.
As seems to be the trend with the College side, they lost the urgency to forge ahead and allowed Westville to come within 4 points of their score.
Although both teams played an exciting fast paced style of basketball, the Alan Paton Hall was devoid of the usual vocal spectators and this had an effect on the home side who have become accustomed to their supporters spurring them on to victory.
-The game concluded with College securing a 64 – 55 victory much to the relief of the coaching staff.
Liam Janse van Rensberg top scored for College by contributing 21 points to the total.
All-in-all it was a successful day of basketball with College only losing one game against the visiting school.
11 CONSECUTIVE school terms of first team sport… KZN10.com would love to know if any boys of the KZN10 can beat, match or come close to the feat achieved by Prince Mazeka of St Charles College.
The Prince story is surprising in part and fascinating in many.
Natural talent is not scarce in the Class of 10 KZN schools – never has been nor ever will be – but these fine educational institutions’ primary purpose, as much as we KZN schoolboy sports fans are sometimes forced to admit (rather grudgingly it must be said)… Yes it is primarily about progress in the classroom.
Martin Ashworth feature image: Blessed with natural athleticism… always a thrill to watch… Luyanda ‘Prince’ Mazeka of St Charles College.
So, think for a moment of three or four first team practices every week since the third term of grade 9 (going into – at this moment – Prince’s final term of first team sport)… the off-field gym training, team video analysis sessions, painful injuries that make time spent in the classroom physically difficult to endure… and so on. Undaunted, Prince has soldiered on.
Luyanda “Prince” Mazeka, born in Kokstad on 25 April 2000 of parents Herbert and Nonzuzo Mazeka and younger sibling of sisters Babalwa and Akhona, has taken this journey and emerged from it with the grace, humbleness and a sincere likeability that draws one to him, yet it’s clear that underneath lies an inner strength of character that has ensured his academics haven’t fallen away.
As mentioned, one of the reasons for this KZN10.com interview with Prince is that he is now embarking on his 11th consecutive term of first team sport – across three codes – firstly soccer, then basketball, then rugby.
It is his 11th and last, as the grade 12 Prince Mazeka isn’t eligible for the fourth term Stayers basketball season.
If you have watched Prince playing any of the three you will have marvelled at his natural balance, agility and – the hallmark of the exceptionally talented – the appearance of having so much time on his hands that he is operating in slow motion compared to his opponents. Yet it is all lightning quick – with those around him scrambling to keep the pace.
The first team appearances started in grade 9 (third term, 2015) when the Prince of KZN10 schoolboy sportsmen made his debut for the Saints firsts soccer team. It was the Pietermaritzburg High Schools Football Association Cup – more commonly known as the Maritzburg Cup.
“I was very nervous, my first time in a first team shirt,” says this quietly spoken, infinitely polite and humble young man.
“It was a key match in the Group stage of the event and every match, every goal, every point counted. We finished second in our Group to qualify for the semi-finals. In the semis we won on penalties to reach the final, against Maritzburg College, which we won.
“I scored the winning goal in that final against Maritzburg College. How did that feel? Nothing can explain the feeling I felt at that moment.” Indeed, no greater thrill could ever be hoped for from a left wing and striker of the Prince pedigree.
Asked to describe how the goal came about, it is clear that Prince remembers it like yesterday. “It was a throw-in deep in the Maritzburg College half. One of my team-mates flicked it on and the ball landed just outside the big box. I hit it on the bounce and goal time it was. I’ve still got my winners’ medal at my family’s home in Pietermaritzburg.”
Saints first team coach Gary Ritchie on Prince the soccer talent:
Gary: “Prince has played 1st team football since Maritzburg Cup in grade 9. He is a flair footballer who has the ability to change matches, he can kick equally with both feet and his explosive speed is his greatest attribute. Prince has a superb attitude and even as a youngster in the team, the seniors embraced his drive. He scored the winner against Maritzburg College in the Maritzburg Cup final. There is no doubt that he could play professional football one day.”
Next up for Prince was firsts basketball in grade 10. “I started off playing cricket at Saints, in grade 8 and a bit of 9 before switching to basketball. Almost all my Saints friends played basketball on the weekends (Prince is a boarder) and I’d join the other boarders playing socially. My love for the game grew to the point where I wanted to play seriously.”
And so it was, with Prince lighting up the packed stands at the Saints indoor arena, the epic Alan Paton Hall derbies at Maritzburg College – and theatres of schoolboy basketball further afield with his prowess in the point guard and shooting guard positions.
Saints first team basketball head coach Darren Holcomb, a former national star and St Charles College head of Upper School, reserves high praise for the Prince.
“Luyanda has had an excellent basketball year and is to be commended for his attitude and determination to succeed. He has been a centre-piece in our offence as well as a key component of our defensive structure. He has excellent positioning – and the ability to make the outside shot consistently and get to the hoop. He is deceptively quick and has the ability to put his defensive marker under pressure. As one of the two captains of the team, he has been a pleasure to work with and is a major reason for the 2018 team’s success.”
For no higher praise could a young man wish.
The third leg of the Prince hat-trick was first XV rugby – in his grade 11 year (2017).
(Of great – and surprise – interest to me was the news that Luyanda Prince Mazeka and Maritzburg College head prefect and first team rugby eighthman and captain Ntuthuko Mchunu are childhood friends, best friends and next-door neighbours in the PMB suburb of Napierville).
“We were at Piet Retief Primary School and grew up together, played sports together since we were little kids. He’s a great friend of mine to this day.”
That’s the magic of KZN10 schoolboy sport – it’s about the friends made… the results soon fade.
“Getting back to my rugby at Saints I had played A team through the age groups and count myself blessed to have enjoyed two years of first team rugby at fullback.”
This is the Prince that Jono Cook has seen more of: And Prince is as apt a name I can think of in recalling how the fullback glides over the turf, the perfect balance, the electric acceleration, the inside and outside breaks, the steps cutting the opposition to threads, the beautiful timing of the pass, the wonderful timing in kicking the ball out of hand and from place-kicks. And it’s not just the good stuff on attack – plenty of hard tackles too when the occasion demanded it. Without a shadow of doubt My Prince of KZN10 fullbacks.
As good as the other Saints first XV players were, it was Prince who first came to mind when I looked forward to a match. Prince, of those guys you never tire of watching because, like the opposition, you are never quite sure what the number 15 is going to come up with next – and invariably it was pretty damn good.
Here’s what Saints first XV co-coach and backline specialist, the former Michaelhouse star centre, Nick Jackson, has to say about my KZN10 Prince of fullbacks.
“I have had the pleasure of coaching Prince for the last two years for the first rugby side. Prince is an incredible natural sportsman, if you ask him to learn something new he is able to pick it up almost immediately. A complete attacking force from fullback that can kick the ball a mile or glide his way through would-be tacklers and leave them in his wake. He is defensively solid, and consistently makes correct decisions on the field. His greatest attribute is that he is an upstanding young man who is willing to listen and learn, as well as making others in his team raise their level of play.”
Wow! That’s way better than I could put it, but then I guess Jacko has spent so much time watching and coaching the Prince he would be in a better position to catch the essence so well.
So with such a range of skill-sets packed into one lithe frame, which is the sport that Prince loves the most?
“I love all three for different reasons, but I have to say that if I had to choose, soccer comes first. I think soccer is my best sport and I’ve accomplished more with it as far as making provincial teams is concerned – I’ve played for KZN teams since grade 8 and this year I hope to be selected for KZN U19.”
* KZN Inland and KZN Coastal are combined under one provincial umbrella in soccer, as is rugby, while hockey and cricket have gone the KZN Inland and KZN Coastal route. And unlike provincial schoolboy rugby, hockey and cricket, soccer is U19.
Every schoolboy sportsman needs support structures and when asked the question Prince pointed to his family in the first instance. “My parents and sisters have been a big help in supporting me, they come to watch me play and it makes me proud to play in front of them.”
Apart from his SCC coaches, a coach in soccer who has had the most influence on Prince is Olwethu Ntlahla .
“When I was in grade 6 at Piet Retief Primary School, Mr Ntlahla taught me the basics of football, how to read the game – he gave me the best foundation I could have hoped for.”
An influential basketball mentor? “Mr (Darren) Holcomb and his first team assistant coach Mr Ayanda Shange. I didn’t know a lot about basketball, it was the newest of the three first team sports I play, and I didn’t have the solid foundation of the basics in me as I had with soccer and rugby.
“So there was quite a bit to learn, catch-up training and basketball game and skills education to do. Mr Holcomb and Mr Shange always found the time to show me the finer points of the game and were always there to answer my questions about aspects of the game that I wasn’t sure of.”
Prince was pretty specific on the key personnel who piloted his soccer and basketball education to the greatest degree, but when asked about specific coaches on the rugby front it brought a frown of sorts.
“That is a very tough one to answer. A number of rugby coaches have had a big influence on my rugby education. Since I first started, in mini-rugby at the age of 9 or so there were a number of coaches at that stage of my rugby development and I am grateful to all of them, as well as to all the coaches I have had at Saints.”
As to his thoughts on St Charles College, this time the Prince answer evidently doesn’t require the slightest hint of careful thought.
“I love Saints.”
“SCC has taught me how to treat all of our people with the same respect, irrespective of where society might try and categorise them. St Charles College has also taught me to always place others before my own interests while at the same time holding my ground and being my own person when the situation demands that response.
“But most of all it is the sense of brotherhood you get here at Saints that is most precious to me. That sense of a shared bond, a common goal and an ideal that is worth preserving and enhancing is what makes my school so special.”
While the Prince of St Charles is a competent, hardworking scholar in the classroom and goes about his duties with a sense of responsibility, he is open-minded about possible career pursuits once his matric year is up in a few very short months’ time.
But, with the flash of a smile, he says, “I would love to go all-out in making a go at professional football.”
KZN10.com extends the best of best wishes to, Prince. May your dreams come true. Nice guys do finish first.