Youth National basketball: Kerala girls pip holders Punjab by a point

There were a few mispasses here and there, but Kerala held its nerves to outwit defending champion Punjab 76-75 in a girls’ Group A clash of the 36th youth National basketball championship at the PSG Tech Indoor Stadium courts here on Wednesday.

Only the other day, Punjab won an extra-time thriller but it failed this time around to get past a determined Kerala unit. The latter played a power-packed game when it mattered most and the former crumbled under pressure.

Punjab maintained a sizeable lead for most part but Kerala, which finished fifth in the last edition, fought back like never before to take the lead midway through the third quarter.

Strategy works wonders

It did not give space to its opponent to rotate the ball and feed it to the post. It was part of the team’s strategy and it worked wonders towards the end.

Ann Mary (25 pts) and Aleema Antony (21 pts) played stellar roles for the winner. Harsimran Kaur (39 pts) did all the hard work for Punjab, but was quite disappointed to finish on the losing side.

Kerala’s chief coach V.M. Premkumar was a happy man. “I had been with the youth team for some time and I know their strengths. They did a great offensive job and, in defence everybody gave their heart out. My credit goes to all the ten players.”

Host Tamil Nadu had something to cheer as its girls scored a comfortable 68-50 win over Maharashtra. Sathya (28 pts) was the top scorer for the team.

The results Boys: Andhra 84 (M.D. Khaleel 34, Pavah Kumar 16) bt J&K 38 (Rinku 13, Anikat 11); Madhya Pradesh (Virat 30, Aryan 13) bt Delhi 65 (Alpansh 18, Ashish 15, Joneid 11); Odisha 66 (S.K. Fayaz 19, Savan Kumar 11) bt Assam 63 (Rahul Paswan 20, Dilpamkar Dey 16); Bihar 63 bt Puducherry 50; Uttarakhand 70 bt Goa 34; Rajasthan 65 (Digvijay Singh 22, Lokendra Singh 13, Nitesh Bangrwa 12) bt Karnataka 63 (Manoj 20, Achnya Krishna 16, Sethu 10); Chandigarh 92 (Akshoy 17, Amarendra 16) bt Jharkhand 38 (Vimlesh Kumar 10, Rajesh Kumar 10).

Girls: Kerala 76 (Ann Mary 25, Aleema Antony 21, P.S. Jesley 13) bt Punjab 75 (Harsimran Kaur 39, Kavya Singla14); Tamil Nadu 68 (Sathya 28, Nitika 10) bt Maharashtra 50 (Azmat Kaur 17, Shomira Bidaye 21); Karnataka 56 bt Madhya Pradesh 21; Gujarat 52 bt Himachal 18; Delhi 78 (Kritika 25, Prakriti 23, Trishala 14) bt Chhattisgarh 72 (Kirti 17, Mansi 14, Urvashi 14); Chandigarh 68 bt Jharkhand 36.

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