The best of India's under-14 basketball talent got together on the same platform in Puducherry for a week of exciting hoops at the 2016 National Basketball Championship for Sub-Junior Boys and Girls from February 2-8. The 42nd edition of this long-running event came to an end with two closely-contest final games on Monday, February 8th. Madhya Pradesh's boys retained their title with a heart-thumping overtime victory while Chhattisgarh Girls bounced back from their final loss at the tournament's previous edition to claim top spot again.
Chhattisgarh returned to the girls' final with an aim to recapture their spot at the top of the podium after losing to Kerala in the final at Nashik 15 months ago. Facing a strong Tamil Nadu side, Chhattisgarh started the final contest on Monday in style, rolling to a 21-8 lead early in the first quarter. While their shots were falling off, TN played tough defense to close the gap after halftime and make it just a seven point game before the final period. Behind the efforts of Elizabeth Ekka (24 points), Chhattisgarh were able to hold on to a 54-48 win and celebrate as champions. Pavithra Sree led TN with 16 in the loss.
The boys finale pitted the tournament's two best teams - Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh - against each other, and the close finish showed that the two neighbouring states had little to separate them on court, too. The final was a repeat of the tournament's previous edition, where MP had defeated Chhattisgarh in a high-scoring game to win the gold. On Monday, it was Chhattisgarh who got started off on the right foot, with hopes to overturn their bitter loss last time and double up on the success of their girls' team. In a defensive contest, Chhattisgarh held on to a 31-20 lead at halftime. But the halftime break seemed their opponents the boost they needed, and MP turned the tables on Chhattisgarh by making a big comeback to take the lead. Chhattisgarh equalized the game in the last 10 seconds of regulation at 53-53, and when time expired, the game went into overtime. MP, fueled by their second-half momentum, separated themselves from their rivals in the five extra minutes to repeat as champions, 64-59. The duo of Jeet Kharwar (21) and Brijesh Tiwari (19) walked home as the most valuable performers in the final for the winning side.
The winning teams were awarded a cash prize of Rs. 50,000 each, while the runners up were awarded Rs. 30,000 each. The third placed teams received a cash prize of Rs. 20,000 each.
A day earlier, Chhattisgarh girls were made to sweat till the very end in a tightly-contested semi-final contest against Maharashtra. Elizabeth Ekka exploded for 30 to give Chhattisgarh an early lead, but Maharashtra bounced back behind the efforts of Shruti Bhosale (16) to take the game into the fourth quarter. Chhattisgarh showed their late-game class and nerves to edge past for a 66-61 win in the end. In the other girls' semi-final, the trio of Pavithra Sree (20), Deepa D. (18) and Hari V. (16) led Tamil Nadu to a 70-57 win over Madhya Pradesh, blowing open a close game with a huge fourth-quarter run. Rajvi Desai scored 27 for MP in the loss.
- Girls: Chhattisgarh (Elizabeth Ekka 24, Shweta S. 13) bt Tamil Nadu (Pavithra Sree 16) 54-48 (21-8, 8-9, 9-14, 16-17).
- Boys: Madhya Pradesh (Jeet Kharwar 21, Brijesh Tiwari 19) bt Chhattisgarh (Sajjad Ali 13) 64-59 OT (12-15, 8-16, 15-8, 18-14, 11-6)
Third/Fourth Place Games
- Girls: Maharashtra (Suzanne 14) bt Madhya Pradesh 63-36 (21-13, 17-6, 12-11, 13-6).
- Boys: Rajasthan (Rajveer S. 21) bt Uttar Pradesh (Priyanshu 25, Aniket 16) 71-66 (22-18, 12-11, 19-16, 18-11).
- 1. Madhya Pradesh
- 2. Chhattisgarh
- 3. Rajasthan
- 4. Uttar Pradesh
- 5. Andhra Pradesh
- 1. Chhattisgarh
- 2. Tamil Nadu
- 3. Maharashtra
- 4. Madhya Pradesh
- 5. Karnataka