It was a day of celebration for every Madhya-Pradeshi. The city of Indore – one of the largest cities in the state – had played brilliant hosts for the past week to India’s best under-16 basketball players in the 29th Youth National Basketball Championship for Boys & Girls. And on Saturday, October 13, 2012, the last day of the tournament, the home fans were presented with a double bonanza: both their boys and girls teams had dominated the tournament and were in their respective finals.
But this was to be no cakewalk for the hosts. The boys’ team faced against last year’s winners Delhi, a repeat of the 2011 Final in Nagpur. The girls’ team went head to head against 2010 and 2011 winners Kerala, who were looking for a 3-peat in the championship.
The tournament was organised by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) in collaboration with the Madhya Pradesh Basketball Association.
Kerala Girls were unstoppable in the final again, and stamped their dominance in the future of India’s women’s basketball with yet another victory. They defeated the Madhya Pradesh girls team 89-66 in a mostly one-sided final. Led by Vinaya Joseph (31), Elizabeth Hilarious (21) and Arathi Vimal (18), Kerala held on to a double digit lead at halftime and hung on to their lead to confirm their victory. The talented Pooja Ladda (22) and Akansha (17) were the leading scorers for the hosts.
But the home fans were given something to cheer about in the exciting boys’ finale. In what turned out to be one of the highest scoring games in the tournament, the two high-scoring sides went on an offensive barrage. With the game tied at the end of the first quarter, MP caught fire in the second and outscored Delhi heavily to hold on to a 55-40 lead at halftime. Delhi began plotting their comeback in the second half, but despite cutting the gap versus the hosts, they didn’t have enough in their engine to win their second straight final in this championship.
In the end, MP survived to win 110-104. Three players for Madhya Pradesh scored 20 or more points: Shubham Mishra (27), Lalit Singh (26), and Ashish Biggs (20). Delhi wasted a fantastic performance by young superstar Narendar, who had 41 points in the loss. Sunil M. (22) and S. Sharma (16) also chipped in for the losing side.
Earlier in the day, the third and fourth place playoffs were also held. In the boys’ game, Punjab used a dominating second quarter performance to see off Rajasthan 83-62. Punjab were led by Disdar Singh (25) and Hemant Sabarwal (19), while Devender Khatik (17) was the high scorer for Rajasthan.
A day earlier, on Friday, the BFI hosted a ‘Train the Trainers’ clinic for coaches who were taking part in the tournament and other local basketball coaches as well. The clinic was led by Troy Justice, the Senior Director of Basketball Operations of NBA India, and Zak Penwell, National Strength & Conditioning Coach for the BFI.
The Semi-Finals of the Youth Nationals were held on Friday evening. MP Boys had another easy-scoring night led by Shubham Mishra (27), Ashish Biggs (27), Laxman Thapa (18), and Nishkarsh (18) to beat Rajasthan 107-93. Devender Khatik had 36 points for Rajasthan in the loss, while Divij and Tushar chipped in 16 each. Delhi were led by Narender (19) in the second semi-final to beat Punjab easily, 80-57.
In the girls’ semis, Kerala’s Arathi Vimal, Elizabeth Hilarious, and Vinaya Joseph each scored 27 points to defeat Chhattisgarh 92-77. Riya Verma (28), Rajnee Jha (20), and Nisha Netam (17) led Chhattisgarh. MP Girls, led by Ayushi Lakotia (22) and Princey Rathore (19), beat Tamil Nadu (Selvamitra 23).
The tournament, which began on October 6, had brought together 24 boys’ and 24 girls’ teams from all across India.
- Boys: Madhya Pradesh (Shubham Mishra 27, Lalit Singh 26, Ashish Biggs 20) bt. Delhi (Narendar M. 41, Sunil M. 22, S. Sharma 16) 110-104 (21-21, 34-19, 28-30, 27-34).
- Girls: Kerala (Vinaya Joseph 31, Elizabeth Hilarious 21, Arathi Vimal 18) bt. Madhya Pradesh (Pooja Ladda 22, Akansha 17, Princey Rathore 13) 89-66 (25-10, 16-15, 25-25, 23-16).3/4th place playoffs
- Boys: Punjab (Disdar Singh 25, Hemant Sabarwal 19) bt. Rajasthan (Devender Khatik 17) 83-62 (21-21, 28-5, 18-18, 16-18).
- Girls: Tamil Nadu (R. Selvamithra 32, P. Hemalatha 13) bt. Chhattisgarh (P. Divya 19, Nisha Netam 13) 70-55 (13-15, 16-9, 17-17, 24-14).Final StandingsBoys
1. Madhya Pradesh
5. Tamil Nadu
7. Uttar Pradesh
8. Andhra Pradesh
2. Madhya Pradesh
3. Tamil Nadu
10. Uttar Pradesh