By Mukund Dhus :
HOLDERS Tamil Nadu girls beat Maharashtra 86-59 to top the pool A at the 79th junior national basketball championship at Patna. Maharashtra girls started well with captain Abha Lad finding the hoop at regular intervals. She was ably supported by Siya Deodhar who controlled the game beautifully. She repeatedly penetrated the rivals defence to make her team-mates free for easy shots. TN, who were down 17-27 in the first quarter regained their composure in the second to reduce the lead at the half time. After change of ends at 37-44, TN was totally a different team playing at full pace.
They rotated well to unsettle Maharashtra’s defence. Shruthi and Monica created havoc in Maharashtra’s defence by repeatedly scoring on drive-ins. Tiring Maharashtra had no answer to the onslaught and could only score 7 points in the third quarter against 22 of the winners. Maharashtra fumbled under the pressure when TN adopted full court man to man marking to make the match one sided. Maharashtra will play Haryana in their last league engagement on Monday and are expected to meet UP in the quarters Earlier, Maharashtra boys were also outplayed by holders Kerala 56-73.
They will meet UP on Monday in their last pool match and the result of this match will decide the placings in the pool and also their opponent in the quarters. Kerala dominated through out the match and were far superior in all the departments of the game. Maharashtra applied pressure ‘man to man’ defence to outscore the winners 21-12 in the last quarter. But it was too late, as the winners had a big lead in hand to emerge victorious. The winners started well by taking advantage of the lethargic defence. Maharashtra failed to stop Tom Jose, who repeatedly scored from behind the arc and lanky Pranav scored on offensive rebounds. After a big lead of 17 points in the first quarter, Maharashtra totally gave up and were never in the game. When Tanay Thatte and Raza were bottled, there was no one to score from long range and others couldn’t do much as the winners raced to 43-17 lead at the breather.
After change of ends it was mere formality as the winners increased their lead to 31 points. The late arrival of Suraj Pathak, who scored all his 10 points in the last quarter could only reduce the lead. Results: Boys - Maharashtra 56 (Pritish Kokate 11, Raza Shaikh 11, Aaqib Zariwala 11, Suraj Pathak 10) lost to Kerala 73 (Pranav Prince 21, Tom Jose 15, Aaron Varghese 15) (07-24, 10-19, 18-18, 21-12) Girls - Maharashtra 59 (Abha Lad 18, Siya Deodhar 16) Lost TN 86 (R Shruthi 29, J Monica 16) (27-17, 17-20, 07-22, 08-27) Holders TN girls along with Maharashtra, Punjab, Kerala, UP have already made it to the last eight while Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan boys are in the quarters.