Chhattisgarh's Women's basketball continued their golden age of dominance over hoops in India, defending their gold medal by winning the final on Sunday at the 64th National Basketball Championship for Junior Men & Women, India's premier basketball competition for under-18 talents from across the nation. Chhattisgarh defeated a spirited Kerala squad in the Final at Cuttack, in Odisha. The Men's title was capture by Delhi, who defeated Punjab in another clash of the titans.
Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and the Odisha Basketball Association, featured a total of 46 squads in the boys' and girls' divisions and was held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium from September 1-8 in Cuttack.
The tournament featured surprises, breakout performances, and some dominant play by India's best junior stars, many of whom are sure to be the faces of the nation's basketball charge in the future.
Led by the dominant 6'7" Poonam Chaturvedi, India's tallest active female basketball player, Chhattisgarh arrived in the Final for a fitting clash against rivals Kerala. Chaturvedi, who averaged a scintillating 46 points per contest through the course of the tournament, added 43 points and 19 rebounds in the Final to cap a wildly successful route to the title. Sangeeta Kaur added 21 in the final for the winning side. Chhattisgarh took an early lead and maintained it till the end to outlast Kerala 79-69. Kerala's Poojamol KS, another star talent for the Indian junior side, scored 33 points in the final, but no other teammate was able to add to her efforts in the final.
The bronze medal games were also held at the venue on Sunday. Tamil Nadu Boys rode on the coattails of S. Karthickeyan, who had a game-high 38 points to help vanquish Kerala 96-57. Akhil added 20 for the losing side. In the girls' game, Maharashtra broke a close tie against Tamil Nadu in the second quarter and maintained their advantage for a 78-66 victory. Ishwari Pingle (21), Shireen Limaye (19) and Krittika (16) were the leading scorers for Maharashtra.
Delhi's Gaurav Ohlan (Boys) and Chhattisgarh's Kavita Akula (Girls) were named the MVPs of the tournament.
silver medal winning girls and boys teams from the 1st U18 FIBA Asia 3X3 Championship in Bangkok were awarded cash prizes of Rs 50,000 each.
On Saturday, history was made the tournament's semi-finals. Chhattisgarh's Poonam Chaturvedi, who had dropped 63 on Tamil Nadu Girls earlier in the competition, broke out once again against TN in the Semi-Final clash, scoring 67 points in one of the greatest individual performances of All Time at the Junior Nationals. Kavita Akula added 16 for Chhattisgarh who stormed by TN for a 110-79 win. R. Selvamithra led TN with 17. In the earlier girls' semi, Poojamol KS (30), Grima (22), Elizabeth (19) helped Kerala overcome a six point half-time deficit to Maharashtra to come back and post a 88-84 win. Sruthi (24) and Shireen Limaye (23) led the way for Maharashtra in the neck-to-neck challenge.
It was a close game in the boys' semi-final between Delhi and Tamil Nadu too, until the fourth quarter when mistakes and foul trouble by TN helped Delhi gain momentum and sneak by to a 92-75 victory. AS Sohal had a game-high 37 for Delhi, while Pradeep Kumar and Narendra Rathi added 17 each. S. Karthickeyan (23) and P. Vijay (17) were leading scorers for TN. In another close game between Punjab and Kerala, Satnam Singh Bhamara scored with 26 points while Rajveer Singh (20) and Khushmeet Singh (16) aided his efforts to help Punjab stamp their place in the Final with a 80-75 win. It was a close game till the very end, with both teams exchanging leads until Punjab finally created some separation in the game's dying minutes. Sreerag had 22 for Kerala.
- Boys:Delhi (Pradeep Kumar 26, Ohlan Gourav 23, Pankaj Rathi 17, Narender Rathi 15) bt Punjab (Satnam Singh 24, Loveneet Singh 14) 89-82 (19-20, 24-26, 20-11, 26-25).
- Girls: Chhattishgarh (Poonam Chaturvedi 43, Sangeeta 21, Akula Kavita 13) bt Kerala (Poojamol KS 33) 79-68 (21-15, 18-15, 19-21, 21-17).
- Boys: Tamil Nadu (S.Karthickeyan 38, Nikal Pandian 13, M. Harissh 13) bt Kerala (Akhil 20) 96-57 (27-18, 24-11, 30-12, 15-16).
- Girls: Maharashtra (Ishwari Pingle 21, Shireen Limaye 19, Krittika 16, Sruthi 13) bt Tamil Nadu (Keerthi 13) 78-66 (21-21, 19-13, 18-18, 20-14).
3. Tamil Nadu
5. Madhya Pradesh
3. Tamil Nadu
5. Uttar Pradesh