Punjab regained the boys’ title while the Chhattisgarh girls completed a hat-trick of triumphs in the 65th National junior basketball championship at the Rajiv Gandhi indoor stadium here on Sunday night.

Punjab, which suffered two losses in the league phase, appeared to have emerged stronger from the experience.

It used its height advantage well to upset defending boys champion Delhi 83-71 while holder Chhattisgarh defeated host Kerala 79-66 to win its 10th girls title after the State came into being.

The Chhattisgarh girls rattled host Kerala with a series of three-pointers. After trailing 23-28 midway through the second quarter, the champion girls grabbed the lead at 32-30 and never looked back.

The Chhattisgarh girls were quick and their passing was accurate too.

The Kerala defence did not seem to bother the champions for they had a bunch of long-range shooters who came up with a string of three-pointers whenever things got hot.

Their point guard Kavita Akula, captain Sharanjeet Kaur, Sangeeta Kaur and Riya Verma all came up with three-pointers — 10 in all to Kerala’s three — as Chhattisgarh roared to a 53-41 lead in the third quarter, after being ahead by just one point (36-35) at half-time. Riya Verma alone hoisted four threes.

While Chhattisgarh was uncorking long-rangers, Kerala, which was playing without its senior India star K.S. Poojamol who had fractured her leg a couple of days ago, had problems even with free-throws.

As the match progressed, the Chhattisgarh girls choked the host with a strong zone defence. The Kerala girls, who worked nicely as a unit on Sunday night, could not find the space or the time to shoot on Monday.

Left-hander Arathi Vimal tried a few long-rangers but they just hit the rim or danced over the hoop before going out.

The host’s youth international Elizabeth Hilarios was expected to carry much of the burden but was reined in nicely by the champion’s tall centres, first by Pooja Ambasth and after her exit, with five fouls, by Filu Maria George.

With its tall Akashdeep Hazra coming up with a couple of slam dunks and Ashpreet Singh unfurling five three-pointers, the Punjab-Delhi match was a treat to watch.

Punjab, combining nicely, clearly dominated the game but Delhi’s Sunil, working his way smartly through the defence, raised hopes in the champion camp. But in the end, Punjab was too strong for its rival.

The results:

Boys: Final: Punjab 83 (Arshpreet Singh 21, Anmol Singh 16, Gurvinder Singh Gill 15, Akashdeep Hazra 14, Dildar Singh 10) bt Delhi 71 (Sunil 25, Narendar 15, Vishal 13, Gaurav Dhillan 10). Third place: Tamil Nadu 83 (M. Harish 31, Mujin Bek 22) bt Maharastara 80 (Sabson Sandu 21, Harshal 18).

Girls: Final: Chhattisgarh 79 (Sharanjeet Kaur 28, Riya Varma 24, Sangeeta Kaur 13) bt Kerala 66 (Arathi Vimal 17, Vinaya Joseph 13, Elizabeth Hilarios 14, Aiswarya Nair 13). Third place: Uthar Pradesh 73 (Barkha Sonakar 20, Sakshi 17, Garima Singh 17, Preethi Kumari 13) bt Punjab 59 (J. Samriti 20, Gagandeep 15).

Most Valuable Players (Harish Sharma memorial cash award): Arshpreet Singh (Punjab, boys) and Sharanjeet Kaur (Chhattisgarh, girls).

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