The national side were fired up right from the get go, scoring 20 points in the opening quarter.
The blitz continued with a 21-point second quarter, and at one point in the fourth quarter they nearly doubled their Pacific rival’s points total.
It was a spectacular end to the tournament, which the Black Pearls ended with two wins and two losses, after suffering a 50-45 loss to Samoa which ensured they would not qualify for the 2019 Netball World Cup.
Coach Dale Wilson spoke prior to the Tonga match, and said that while she was bitterly disappointed to lose to the Samoans, they showed a great deal of internal improvement.
“We had a horror start in our (38-55) loss to Fiji, and we were so much better yesterday against Samoa,” Wilson said.
“They created a lot of turnovers, the shooting and passing was hugely improved. We actually outscored them in the second and fourth quarter too.”
Wilson said that the teams they competed against had been together for months, while the Cook Islands had only managed a two-day camp together, as the squad was split across three countries.
Although the ultimate goal of qualifying for the World Cup was not achieved, she said that there were a number of achievements.
“Our captain Ashleigh Iro said that in her seven years in the team she had never beaten Papua New Guinea, so beating them was a massive accomplishment.
“And this time last year we weren’t even ranked, so we were really punching above our weight even being here. And we showed that we deserved to be here, as we had a real shot at making the top two.”
Another big take away for Wilson was the strong team spirit that was on display.
Going into the Tonga match, they were very upbeat, despite the disappointment of the previous night, and the team was very willing to stand up to mistakes after a video session of their Fiji match.
The next step is up in air, with Wilson saying that she needed to speak with the NCI board about the long-term plan moving forward, with development being a key issue.
While the team won’t qualify for the World Cup, should Fiji or Samoa be unable to attend for any reason, the Cook Islands will likely take their place.
To their supporters, Wilson said that the team had been overwhelmed by the amount of messages they had received.
“To everyone, I offer the biggest meitaki. It’s been so inspiring, and from the bottom of my heart, you all have been incredible.”