Kerala Girls continue their stronghold on the Youth (under-16) division of basketball in India, winning their fourth consecutive Youth National title in Kolkata on Tuesday evening after a blowout Final victory over Tamil Nadu. Kerala’s victory was followed by a heart-stopping finale for the boys’, as Delhi survived a furious comeback from Rajasthan to win the title.
The 30th Youth (U16) National Basketball Championships for Boys and Girls saw 25 boys’ and 24 girls’ teams from all across India descend to Kolkata (West Bengal) for the scintillating eight-day tournament, which concluded on May 7th. The tournament was organized by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and the West Bengal Basketball Association (WBBA).
It was another night of celebration for Kerala’s Girls’ squad, who are seemingly unbeatable at this level of the game in India. They won all seven games in this tournament behind consistent play by Nimmy Mathew, Mayukha KJ, and the rest. In the final, Kerala came storming out the gate in the first quarter against neighbours Tamil Nadu and kept building on that advantage to post a mammoth win of 83-47. Mayukha led the balanced Kerala scoring attack with 17 points in the Final. V Rachel had 17 points for TN.
The boys’ final upped the ante as the two finalists – Delhi and Rajasthan – fought each other till the very end. The game was tied at the end of the first quarter and Delhi held a slim three-point lead at halftime. A strong defensive third quarter saw Delhi extend that lead to nine, but Rajasthan came storming back in the fourth to outscore Delhi 23-16. In the end, the boys from the nation’s capital survived to win their second title in three years, 79-77. Sunil (27) and Bitto (23) led the way for Delhi, surviving a dominant performance by Rajasthan’s Mahipal Singh (30 – the leading scorer in the tournament – and Yogesh Kaneriya (16).
The third and fourth place matchups were also held on Tuesday. In the Boys’ game, Rahul Mehla (26), Prabhnoor Singh (19) and Jaipal (17) led the way in a blowout win over Haryana, who were led by Sonu Kumar (16). In the Girls’ game, Riya Verma (28) and Divya P (26) were the stars for Chhattisgarh who defeated Karnataka 82-73, despite the best efforts of rising young star Lopamudra TK (34) and Bhandavya HM (28).
The Semi-Finals of the tournament were held on Monday evening. In the Boys’ game, Sunil had 27 points for Delhi’s high-scoring 86-74 win against Haryana. Arjun Pandit (16) and Shon Suresh Kalangutkar (16) added to Delhi’s score, while Naveen Sheokand had 22 for Haryana. In the second’s Men’s Semi-Final, Rajasthan were led by their unstoppable duo of Mahipal Singh (33) and Akhilesh Kumar (30) as they defeated Punjab 92-82. Prabhnoor Singh (21) and Rahul Mehta (21) led the way for the losing side.
Kerala played in a high-scoring Semi-Final against Karnataka, winning 81-70. They fell back in the first quarter but bounced back with a strong 25-7 run in the second. Mayukha KT had 29 points, Vimmy Varkey had 17, and India Nelson had 16. Bhandavya HM scored 26 for the losing side. Y. Srividhya had 23 points to lead Tamil Nadu in the 68-51 win in the second semi-final over Chhattisgarh. Riya Verma led Chhattisgarh with 18.
Boys: Delhi (Sunil 27, Bitto 23, Vishal Gupta 14) bt. Rajasthan (Mahipal Singh 30, Yogesh Kaneriya 16, Akhilesh Kumar 15) 79-77 (18-18, 26-23, 19-13, 16-23).
Girls: Kerala (Mayukha KJ 17, Nimmy Matthew 15, Aneeta PV 15, India Nelson 15, Vimmy Varkey 13) bt. Tamil Nadu (V. Rachel 17) 83-47 (26-17, 20-16, 20-7, 17-7).
Third/Fourth Place Matchups
Boys: Punjab (Rahul Mehla 26, Prabhnoor Singh 19, Jaipal 17) bt. Haryana (Sonu Kumar 16) 93-47 (21-5, 26-8, 24-18, 22-16).
Girls: Chhattisgarh (Riya Verma 28, Divya P 26, Vandana Ariya 14) bt. Karnataka (Lopamudra TK 34, Bhandavya HM 28) 82-73 (24-19, 20-15, 21-19, 17-20).
2. Tamil Nadu