The Mainland Pouākai have confirmed the signing of import Jailin Cherry from the USA’s renowned basketball college, NCAA Division 1 Louisiana State University. LSU has been ranked as high as #6 in the NCAA Division 1 rankings and made the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
Cherry will join the squad this Saturday, wearing the Pouākai jersey on Saturday 30 July in front of an expected Cowles Stadium sell-out.
“Saturday’s doubleheader will close our home season here in Christchurch. After Saturday we will have four games away, including Monday night in Queenstown against the Southern Hoiho,” says Mainland Pouākai General Manager Caleb Harrison.
Five regular season games remain, and the Pouākai share the middle of the table with the Tokomanawa Queens and Mid-North Whai. The top four teams play in the GJ Gardner Homes Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa, things are up for grabs with every game in the competition coming down to the wire.
The addition of Cherry strengthens a formidable lineup, and according to head coach Tully Bevilaqua, the best has yet to be seen.
“We have missed Mary Goulding and Ella Fotu for large parts of the season due to national team duties; Ella comes back from the Commonwealth Games on August 7th, and Jailin’s timing means we make a run for the playoffs with our roster at peak strength.”
Cherry joins the Pouākai straight from her graduate season at Louisiana State University, where she started 30 games and helped the Tigers secure lone possession of the No. 2 spot in the SEC. Her double figures in 15 games throughout the season included a career-high with 24 points in LSU’s first-round NCAA tournament win over Jackson State.
Originally from Pascagoula, Mississippi, Cherry became the first player in her high school’s history to be inducted into the 1000-point club. At LSU, she was named to the Academic Honour Roll and was a critical point-scorer in the renowned Southeastern Conference.
Coming to Christchurch straight from the university scene, Cherry’s experience and energy will be a perfect complement for a Pouākai squad built on Tall Fern experience and homegrown talent, playing alongside fellow imports Erin Whalen and Trinity Baptiste. The addition of Cherry also means the loss of Cierra Walker, who has agreed with terms to professional team Tapiolan Honka in Finland. We thank Cierra for all of her efforts with the Pouākai and wish her the very best in Finland.
The Pouākai build up to face the Tokomanawa Queens this Saturday at 5pm at Cowles Stadium. The Pouākai have had two very close wins against the Queens earlier this season, and this showdown on Saturday will be the third and final meeting for these two teams.
The Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa competition has been a huge success so far this season including the Pouākai setting the record for most spectators ever at a women’s basketball game in Aoteara with 4,500 plus at the Christchurch Arena game on Saturday. According to Harrison: “We are so appreciative of the community support and the fans make a difference, we are looking forward to a really noisy and rocking Cowles Stadium this Saturday.
“Our regional support has been massive; fans have loved being part of history in the inaugural year of the Tauihi Aotearoa Women’s Basketball League.”