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Wairarapa basketball great in Hall of Fame

The 1967 NZ Basketball team. Sally McPhee is No 9 in the back row. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

BASKETBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Last Saturday was a proud moment for former international and Wairarapa basketball representative Sally McPhee, as she was inducted into the Basketball New Zealand Hall of Fame.

Sally McPhee at her Hall of Fame induction.

McPhee, 81, now lives in Levin, but her extensive playing days were in Wairarapa in the 1960s when she was one of the country’s leading players.

Wairarapa coach Basil Marsh, who also coached the New Zealand national team, saw the potential in the 1.88m [6ft 2in] McPhee, and he encouraged her to take up basketball.

Her impact on the sport was immediate, and she quickly earned representative honours.

McPhee represented Wairarapa for eight years, winning numerous North Island Championships and national titles in 1963 and 1964.

The highlight was being a member of the Wairarapa team, playing in the New Zealand B competition that went to the 1963 national championships in Nelson and won the overall competition beating the A grade teams, such as Auckland and Canterbury.

McPhee’s son Jason said that his mother and fellow Wairarapa rep Judy Pellew were the Wairarapa players to go on and represent New Zealand, and the tournament team, comprising the best 10 players included four Wairarapa players – McPhee, Pellew, Kaye Wong ,and Lorraine Jamieson.

During her 10-year international career, McPhee went on two tours to Australia in 1964 and 1967 and played against South Korea in 1968.

The Basketball NZ website said that on the 1964 tour, McPhee was New Zealand’s leading scorer and rebounder. As the team’s only true centre, her workload was high, and she was regarded as the equal of the Australian ‘bigs’.

On the 1967 tour, where the team played in the Australian State Championships, McPhee was again the leading scorer and a tournament top-10 rebounder with teammate Lynne MacDonald.

McPhee also represented the North Island and was top-scorer against the Australian Opals on their return from the 1967 FIBA World Championships.

Basketball wasn’t McPhee’s only sporting passion. She also played hockey, softball, and was a representative swimmer.

In 1958, she became the first person to swim the length of Lake Wairarapa, and later competed in harbour swims over longer distances as well as in the pool.

Swimming was very much in her blood.

She and her late husband, Ian, were heavily involved in swimming in Wairarapa.

Ian held all administration offices in Swimming Wairarapa at various times and did two terms as Swimming NZ President, and was a life member of Wairarapa, Wellington, and NZ Swimming before he died in 2014.

A schoolteacher by profession, McPhee and is very active in the Levin community.

She was accompanied at the awards induction at Te Papa by her two sons and their families including her five grandchildren.

Other inductees included former Tall Black Glen Denham, the men’s team of 1978 [the first to beat Australia], and long-time administrator and player Burton Shipley.

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