Kavita was the cynosure of all eyes as she scored at will to power Chhattisgarh to an 86-69 victory over Tamil Nadu in a women’s group ‘B’ league match of the 64th IMG Reliance National basketball championship at the Thyagaraj Indoor Stadium here on Friday.

Tamil Nadu which had fared better in the last edition had no answers to the all-round efficiency of the Chhattisgarh here.

There was a some scope for a fight, as Tamil Nadu kept close to the opponent at 19-20 in the first quarter. However, it was a false hope, as Chhattisgarh stepped up its game to leave the Tamil Nadu girls panting for breath.

Pillar of strength

With the towering Poonam Chaturvedi a pillar of strength, collecting the defensive rebounds with assurance, Tamil Nadu found it hard to score. Most of the players kept missing, including the dependable Apoorva Muralinath which put paid to the team’s chances of making a fight of it.

Once Chhattisgarh raced ahead to a 41-27 lead at half time, it was clear that it was beyond Tamil Nadu, even though it put up a marginally better show in the third quarter.

Chhattisgarh eased up towards the finish as it allowed its bench to take the field and preserved key players for the challenges ahead.

This win follows Chhattisgarh’s easy victory over Madhya Pradesh. For Tamil Nadu, it was the first defeat after a robust start against Maharashtra. The teams, however, should be in the top two positions in the race for the quarterfinals.

Kerala cruises

In the other group, Delhi lost its match against defending champion Railways, after recording thumping victories over Karnataka and West Bengal. Kerala which had made heavy weather of beating Karnataka, cruised past West Bengal.

In the men’s section, Tamil Nadu won its second match beating Chhattisgarh to be on top ahead of seasoned teams like Uttarakhand and Railways.

In group B, Punjab won its third successive match. Services also looked to be in excellent touch as it posted a score of 101 for the second time in as many matches.

The results (league): Men: Group A: Tamil Nadu 71 (S. Venkatesh 23, C.V. Dinesh 18, Rikin Pethani 15) bt Chhattisgarh 42 (Karanpal Singh 16, Ajay Pratap Singh 13).

Railways 79 (Gagandeep Singh 20, Ankur Anand Singh 15, Prakash Mishra 12) bt Delhi 56 (Pravin Dovan 22, Vinay Kaushik 13).

Group B: Punjab 84 (Palpreet Singh 31, Ranbir Singh 23) bt Kerala 70 (Ajeeth Sugunan 20, Basil Phillip 20, Albin Baby 11).

Services 101 (Gopal Ram 22, Joginder Singh 14, Narender Grewal 12, Manu Thomas 12, Jai Ram 12, Antony V. Nixon 10) bt Madhya Pradesh 35.

Women: Group A: Railways 87 (Geethu Anna Jose 35, R. Smruthi 10) bt Delhi 55 (Prashanti Singh 17, Raspreet Sidhu 10, Pratima Singh 10).

Kerala 68 (P.S. Jeena 31, P.S. Neenumol 16, Stephy Nixon 11) bt West Bengal 39 (Sukurmoni Oraon 15, Salma Devi 14).

Delhi 97 (Prashanti Singh 23, Raspreet Sidhu 21, Sonika Ohlyan 14, Madhu Kumari 13) bt West Bengal 75 (Sukurmoni Oraon 21, Varsha Verma 16, Sitamani Tudu 11, Salma Devi 10).

Kerala 52 (P.S. Jeena 15, P.S. Neenumol 13) bt Karnataka 50 (Kruthika Lakshman 22, L.S. Savitha 13).

Group B: Chhattisgarh 86 (Kavita 28, Seema Singh 19, Bharti Netam 12, Poonam Chaturvedi 10) bt Tamil Nadu 63 (R. Ramya 22, Apoorva Muralinath 16, Soniya Joy 12).

Maharashtra 61 (Sona M. Saji 12) bt Madhya Pradesh 23.

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