Southland's Mac Stodart has been one of New Zealand's best as the National Under 16 Boys team has earned a four win, one loss record over the opening four days of competition at the 2017 Australian U16 Championships in Perth, Western Australia.
Drawn in Pool B, New Zealand has earned victories over Victoria Country, New South Wales Country and Western Australia Country, before disposing of previously unbeaten Queensland North in a tight battle earlier yesterday.
The team went down to South Australia Metro last night to sit second in their pool behind Queensland North on goal difference, and face the winless ACT in its final pool game on tonight (Wednesday) at 9:00pm NZ time.
Big Mac has stuffed the stat sheet all week, opening with 19 points and 8 rebounds while earning praise for his defence against Victoria Country. He followed it up on Sunday with 8 points and a game-high 10 rebounds against NSW Country and yesterday got away to a hot start against WA Country, finishing with 16 points on 6/8 shooting from the field, including 2/3 from beyond the arc, along with 3 rebounds, all in just 11:57 on court after rolling his ankle.
Fortunately the injury wasn't serious as he was able to suit up today for the top of the table battle with Queensland North and play a game-winning hand dominating the boards with 15 rebounds and 17 points in the Kiwis hard fought three-point win. Then, last night he played something of a lone hand offensively in his team's first loss, leading all scorers with 24 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals.
Averaging 16.8 points (to sit sixth on the tournament's scoring stats) at 50.7% from the field and 9 rebounds (fourth overall), Mac looms as one of the keys as the New Zealand boys push for a tournament victory.
GAME ONE RECAP - VICTORIA COUNTRY 65, NEW ZEALAND 89
The first half of the game was a very even contest as Jordan Michel contributed two three-pointers for Vic Country and Dyson Daniels provided a spark off the bench but NZ had Mac Stodart and Ezra Vaigafa to keep them in the game, courtesy of their transition and great defence. Stodart’s trap defence was especially strong and eventually the scoring dried up for Vic Country while Reihana Topia had 11 points and ten rebounds and Harrison Payne top-scored with 23.
GAME TWO RECAP - NSW COUNTRY 54, NEW ZEALAND 84
NZ started the match with a 13-0 run and continued to pile the pressure on, gaining a 21-point lead at half-time courtesy of a strong inside and outside game. NSW Country kept up the physical nature of the contest through the second half but they could not slow down Harrison Payne (22 points) or Mac Stodart’s rebounding efforts.
GAME THREE RECAP - NEW ZEALAND 91, WA COUNTRY 58
New Zealand looked strong early and had an aggressive offensive set-up with Mac Stodart adding 12 quick points. He rolled his ankle though and WA Country took advantage, pulling the margin back to tie the game at quarter-time. WA Country then moved in front but that sparked a resurgence in NZ who went on a second quarter blitz, turning around a five-point deficit into a 21-point lead which set up the win.
GAME FOUR RECAP - NEW ZEALAND 87, QLD NORTH 84
Some great defensive pressure from both teams set the tone in this close battle with NZ tagging Tamuri Wigness and making him work hard for every shot. As the clock wound down towards half-time, NZ drilled a couple of three-pointers courtesy of Samuel Jenkins to open up a double-digit lead but Qld North were not done with, closing the gap to one possession behind Wigness’ 38 points. Harrison Payne (22 points) helped clinch the game for NZ though in an absolute thriller.
GAME FIVE RECAP - NEW ZEALAND 65, SA METRO 83
SA Metro took the early lead in this contest but NZ fought back to only trail by one at quarter-time before the fire alarm disrupted play. Upon the return, the game played out in a similar fashion before SA Metro hit a buzzer-beater at three-quarter time to lead by just three. They finally broke away from their international opponents down the stretch as Kalani Sapwell and Sebastian Griffin combined for 44 points to answer the strong performance of Mac Stodart’s 24 points.