TN boys defeat Madhya Pradesh, Kerala girls get past TN in final

Tamil Nadu captured the boys' title and Kerala girls retained the crown in the IMG-Reliance 62nd National junior basketball championship at the Thyagaraj Indoor Stadium here on Tuesday.

It was an impressive performance by the Tamil Nadu boys as they tamed the strong Madhya Pradesh team in clinical fashion, asserting their authority from start to finish.

Quite interestingly, Tamil Nadu had lost to Madhya Pradesh in the league, and the team looked to have learnt the lessons and tuned itself nicely for the climax.

Incidentally, Tamil Nadu had beaten the only other team that had humbled it in the league, Chhattisgarh, with another splendid show in the semifinals.

Scorching pace

S. Sivabalan, who had caught the eye at the start of the tournament with his all-round game, put up a superb show, basketing at will from anywhere, in scoring 36 points. In fact, he set such a scorching pace for Tamil Nadu at the start, by scoring 16 points in the first quarter, it was difficult for Madhya Pradesh to catch up.

Conviction

What impressed in the Tamil Nadu team was the conviction of the players in their ability, and how each player operated with admirable clarity.

M. Kasirajan took over in the fourth quarter to ensure a smooth finish, while A. Arvind was literally a pillar of strength under the basket. V. Gopal and S. Karthikeyan also played their part well to cap a resounding fare for the Tamil Nadu team.

After trailing 11-24 in the first quarter, Madhya Pradesh bridged the gap to 33-44 by half-time as Amit Kanarjee and Siddharth Singh Chowhan played their hearts out, with reasonable support from the rest of the squad, but unfortunately could not pull themselves to match their rivals.

Hopes raised

A few three-pointers did raise hopes for Madhya Pradesh — which came as close as 53-57 in the fourth quarter — but Tamil Nadu was brilliant in the climax.

In the girls' final, Tamil Nadu teased Kerala quite a bit in the first quarter, but fell behind in the second, as K.S. Poojamol showed her class with a clutch of baskets and her sheer brilliance on court.

The key Kerala girls took turns to strike, as P.S. Jeena fared better in the second half, while skipper P.R. Surya was consistent throughout in top-scoring with 28 points.

Once it conceded a 31-49 lead by halftime, after being 20-22 at the end of the first quarter, Tamil Nadu was unable to catch up much, though the girls retained the spirit to fight it out till the end.

The results: Boys: Final: Tamil Nadu 77 (S. Sivabalan 36, A. Arvind 16, M. Kasirajan 14) bt Madhya Pradesh 64 (Amit Kanarjee 19, Siddarth Singh Chowhan 17).

Third place: Punjab 78 (Loveneet Singh 20, Baljeet Singh 16, Manpreet Singh 11, Gauravdeep Singh 10) bt Chhattisgarh 62 (B. Dinesh 30, Jayapratap Singh 15).

Girls: Final: Kerala 83 (P. R. Surya 26, K. S. Poojamol 22, P. S. Jeena 21) bt Tamil Nadu 67 (Rajapriya Dharshini 19, L. Suganya 13, M. Keerthi 10).

Third place: Chhattisgarh 78 (Anjana Daisy Ekka 24, Sangeeta Mandal 21, A. Kavita 19, Pushpa Nishad 10) bt Karnataka 76 (P. U. Navaneetha 27, Simonelle D'Souza 22, Sagarika Shyam 13).

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