The best continued to get better. It was a familiar conclusion at the end of the 43rd Sub-Junior National Basketball Championship for Boys and Girls on the afternoon of Friday, October 7 in Hyderabad, as the reigning champions in both the boys' and girls' divisions - Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh respectively - won their final matches to retain their trophies. For MP, there was added cause for celebration as this gave them their third consecutive title as the best of the 'mini' age group.
The girls' final on Friday pitted the last two winners of the trophy, Kerala and Chhattisgarh, to compete for the best sub-junior team in the nation. The game lived up to its billing with both teams sticking close to each other till the final minutes. Chhattisgarh caught fire at the right time in the final quarter to eventually create some separation and head to a 57-48 victory. Kirti (20) and Urvashi Baghel (16) led the scoring charge for the winning side, while Ann Mary Zachariah led Kerala with 19. The gold was the hundredth medal in a national basketball competition for Chhattisgarh's legendary head coach Rajesh Patel.
The men's finalists featured Madhya Pradhesh - with an asterisk. This was technically the 'BFI-MP' team, an independent squad of players from MP given one-time approval by the BFI to take part in this tournament under the 'MP' banner. This technicality surely arose from the differing loyalties of the state federations after the break-up of the BFI last year. MP faced Rajasthan, one of the top teams in the tournament, in a promising final clash. It turned out to be a topsy-turvy contests of crazy runs. After holding Rajasthan down to just six points in the first quarter, MP saw their opponents explode for 37 in the second. At halftime, Rajasthan held on to a 43-31 lead. But MP bounced back in the third to take a one-point advantage, and held on in a close finale to win 69-66. Virat Dhakad scored 19 for MP in the win, while Rajasthan were led by their star player Mahaveer Banjara (29).
P Niranjan Reddy, the vice Chairman of Telangana Government Planning Commission distributed the winning boys’ medals and trophy. Aadhav Arjuna, Managing Director of Arise Steel Industries was the special guest for the second day running. Also seen distributing the trophies and medals were Chander Mukhi Sharma, Secretary-General of Basketball Federation of India, M Rajender Reddy, President, Telangana Basketball Association, R Sridhar Reddy, President, Organising Committee (and also President of the Hyderabad District Basketball Association) and other dignitaries.
The semi-finals of the tournament was held on Thursday. In the first girls' semi, Chhattisgarh took a sizable 20-6 lead in the first quarter over Maharashtra, and for the rest of the game, fought back all the comeback attempts from their opponents to hold on to an eventual 51-45 win. Khushboo Gupta wrecked havoc for Chhattisgarh with a game-high 19 points. The second girls' semi-final was a classic back-and-forth battle between two neighbouring southern states: Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Kerala fought back from an early disadvantage with a game-changing second-quarter run. The two teams fought back and forth in the second half, and Kerala held on to to win the close game, 66-62. Ann Mary Zachariah (21) and Gouri (17) led the way for Kerala, while Sathya K poured in 29 points in a losing effort for TN.
- Girls: Chhattisgarh (Kirti 20, Urvashi Baghel 16) bt Kerala (Ann Mary Zachariah 19) 57-48 (18-16, 19-15, 8-11, 12-6).
- Boys: Madhya Pradesh (Virat Dhakad 19, Aman Negi 13) bt Rajasthan (Mahaveer Banjara 29) 69-66 (14-6, 17-37, 24-11, 14-12).
- Girls: Tamil Nadu (Nitika A 19, Sathya K 19, Varshini J 18) bt Maharashtra (Siya Deodhar 18, Chaitaali Bafna 14) 70-50 (16-14, 14-7, 27-16, 13-13)
- Boys: Haryana (Gourav 19) bt Andhra Pradesh 73-42 (17-6, 25-10, 12-19, 19-7).
- 1. Chhattisgarh
- 2. Kerala
- 3. Tamil Nadu
- 4. Maharashtra
- 5. Rajasthan
- 1. Madhya Pradesh
- 2. Rajasthan
- 3. Haryana
- 4. Andhra Pradesh
- 5. Telangana