La Martiniere boys' centre Raghav in action.

La Martiniere boys’ centre Raghav in action.

Chennai and Ludhiana dominate group stage with maximum entries in the semi finals

New Delhi, December 19, 2014: The group stage of The Indian School and College Basketball League, National Finals culminated today at the Thyagraj Stadium in New Delhi, with Chennai and Ludhiana boys and girls dominating this phase. Schools and colleges from Chennai made it to the semi-finals of each category, whereas Ludhiana also made it to the playoffs of each division except for men’s college, where they didn’t have a participating team. The semi-finals will take place tomorrow and the finals will be held on Sunday, Dec 21, 2014.

In the boy’s school semi-final Sr Nav Bharti, Ludhiana will take on Modern School, New Delhi, whereas Velammal School, Chennai will play against Bhavan’s Prominent, Indore.

In the girl’s school semi-final Govt Girls School, Ludhiana will take on Montfort School, New Delhi and Santhome School, Chennai will fight it out with Mallya Aditi International, Bengaluru.

The men’s college semi-final will see Sathyabhama Engineering College, Chennai take on SKIT College, Jaipur and Islamia Karimia, Indore will play against Kirori Mal College, New Delhi.

MOP Vaishnav, Chennai wil play against Rajasthan College, Jaipur in the women’s college semi-final and Government College for Girls, Ludhiana will take on RA Podar College, Mumbai.

Matches held on Day 4 afternoon and evening (18 December 2014) [Reports compiled by Vishnu, Gopal and Kabir] 

Game 48, Court no. 2: Montfort School, New Delhi v. Santhome School, Chennai

Montfort School, Delhi and Santhome School, Chennai entered today’s match unbeaten and hungry for more wins. What was anticipated to be a thrilling contest fizzled out into a one-sided affair early into the game. The Chennai team had a hot start jumping to the early lead with their superior passing. The girls from Santhome School broke down the Montfort zone defense with a very high shooting percentage. The Montfort zone could not match up with the ball rotation and this led to open jumpers from mid-range and beyond the arc for the Chennai girls. Ideally, the Montfort coach should have made necessary adjustments and switched to man-to-man defense to keep track of the shooters, but no changes were made and Chennai exploited this lack of coverage. Chennai recognized that the Montfort players weren’t comfortable using their off-hand while driving in and used this to their advantage on the defensive end by overpowering each player’s strong hand and forcing turnovers. Chennai’s unselfish play led to a well-balanced scoring attack with 9 out of their 12 players contributing. Nandhini and Ria were the top scorers for Chennai with 10 and 9 points respectively while Montfort’s top scorers were Simran and Ria with 12 and 11 points.

Santhome School, Chennai (R. Nandhini 10) bt Montfort School, New Delhi (K. Simran 12) 53-39 (24-8, 12-7, 7-12, 10-12)

Game 45 Court 1 Loyola Academy, Hyderabad vs St Xaviers, Kolkata

The two college men’s Group A teams with the worst records faced off in their final league game on Court no. 1. Both teams were hoping to end their 2014 campaign on the right note, but the initial few minutes of the game started off on the worst possible note with Loyola Academy finding itself in a 6-18 hole at the end of the first quarter. There was nothing to separate the two sides in terms of number of field goal attempts (approximately 50 each) and field goal percentage (in the mid-twenties) from two point and three point ranges. The difference proved to be St Xaviers’s greater number of freethrow attempts and superior rebounding figures, in what was otherwise very average quality fare.

St Xaviers, Kolkata (S Jaiswal 14, R Sharma 10) bt Loyola Academy, Hyderabad (P Kumar 10, Chris Viresh PK 10) 41-28 [18-6, 8-4, 9-6, 8-12]

Game 46 Court 1 MOP Vaishnav, Chennai vs St Xaviers, Kolkata

Defending champions MOP Vaishnav, Chennai showcased a clinical team defensive effort to restrict St Xaviers to just 25 points in the game en route to a convincing 66-25 win. MOP Vaishnav did a great job of protecting the rim and with their aggressive patrolling of their backcourt, completely threw St Xaviers, Kolkata off their offensive plans.  For MOP Vaishnav, K Prithi top scored for the winners with 20 points and was ably assisted by Akshaya’s 14 points. With defence creating offense, most of their scoring came from transition and semi-transition opportunities.

MOP Vaishnav, Chennai (K Prithi 20, Akshaya 14) bt St Xaviers, Kolkata (Darshana 7, Kaizeen 5) 66-25 [18-5, 20-8, 16-4, 12-8]

Game 51, Court no. 2: Fr. Agnel School, Mumbai v. Modern School, New Delhi

The clash for a potential berth in the semi-finals turned into a no-contest as Modern School, New Delhi emphatically beat the team from Fr. Agnel School, Mumbai and booked a place in the semi-finals. The average size of the Delhi school boys was bigger than the Mumbai team, who just had one big man on the inside – no. 13, Anmol Sharma. Mumbai were unable to produce any effective penetration and settled for too many outside jumpers on a cold shooting night. Modern School captain Himanshu was effective in this game with his ability to beat his man off the dribble and drive in strong. Modern School’s centre, Prabhav, pulled down numerous rebounds on the defensive and offensive end against the smaller Mumbai team and was able to create a lot of second chance opportunities for his team. Tanmay Mali, Mumbai’s star guard managed to put up 24 points behind some very tough shots against the Delhi defense. But he did not get enough contribution from the rest of the Mumbai players. The lone big man from Fr. Agnel School was benched for most of the second half after he picked up four early fouls. Mumbai suffered due to this as they were majorly outrebounded by the Delhi team. Eventually, the game turned into a blowout and Delhi won by a huge 40-point margin.

Modern School, New Delhi (Prabhav 36) bt Fr. Agnel School, Mumbai (Tanmay Mali 24) 94-54 (23-18, 18-8, 28-15, 25-13)

Game 52, Court no. 2: Vidyaniketan High School, Mumbai v. DPS, Indore 

The final game of Day 4 was between the two teams that have been knocked out from Pool B in the school girls category. Vidyaniketan High School, Mumbai and DPS, Indore were both looking for their first wins in the tournament. The largely inconsequential game was won by the Mumbai school girls who were clearly the better skilled team. Indore’s lack of effective ball handlers and loose passing resulted in easy buckets for the Mumbai team. Four Mumbai players ended up with double-digits with Sakshi Kotian leading the way with 18 points. The Indore girls ended the tournament winless and have a long way to go to compete at a high level at such tournaments. 

Vidyaniketan High School, Mumbai (Sakshi Kotian 18) bt DPS, Indore (Srushti Sharma 10) 52-33 (10-7, 13-2, 13-10, 16-14)

Game 54 Court 1: La Martiniere, Kolkata vs Oakridge International School, Hyderabad

In a match between the two lowest placed teams, La Martiniere, Kolkata had the upper hand against Oakridge International School, Hyderabad, thanks to their big centre Raghav. However, even with Raghav’s 42 points, Oakridge as a team stepped up through Harsha and Viraj’s 20 odd points each to keep the scoring neck and neck.

Kolkata nursed a comfortable 12 point lead at halftime and were sitting pretty going into the second half. Much of this was thanks to the huge contribution by its bench players (42 points as against just 4 for Hyderabad). While Hyderabad kept putting up a ton of shots, they shot poorly from the field, especially in the first half. The second half turned in Hyderabad’s favour, with the Oakridge boys outscoring Kolkata with a 24-14 run. At the start of the fourth quarter, Kolkata led 48-36, and a furious late rally by Oakridge brought it within a possession of Kolkata at 64-67 with barely a few seconds left. But their final three point shot attempt clanged off the rim and Kolkata held on for the win. 

La Martiniere, Kolkata (Raghav 42) bt Oakridge International School, Hyderabad (Harsha 22, Viraj 20) 67-64 [20-12, 19-15, 9-9, 19-18]

Matches held on Day 5 (19 December 2014) 

Game 55, Court no. 2: Bhavans Vidya Mandir, Kochi vs Oakridge School, Hyderabad

Bhavans Vidya Mandir, Kochi entered today’s match still looking for their first win of the tournament but unfortunately it was not to be – not while Oakridge International School, Hyderabad had something to say about it. Kochi’s entire offense was centered around Reshma, who scored all 33 of Kochi’s points! This one-dimensional approach has been Kochi’s undoing so far and it was no different today. All that the Hyderabad girls had to do was swarm Reshma with multiple defenders and Kochi’s entire offense was stalled. Even though a single player, Sharon, carried Hyderabad’s offense as well, they still had other threats, which meant Kochi were not able to collapse their defense around her. Sharon from Oakridge International School set a tournament scoring record in the school girls category with 56 points! Hyderabad jumped to a huge lead from the get-go and the match ended in a blowout with Hyderabad winning by a margin of 50 points. 

Oakridge International School, Hyderabad (Sharon 56, Kirthi 11) bt Bhavans Vidya Mandir, Kochi (Reshma 33) 83-33 (26-11, 20-10, 25-7, 12-5)

Game 53 Court 1: Mallya Aditi International School, Bengaluru vs La Martiniere, Kolkata

Mallya Aditi International School, Bengaluru has readied nicely for its semi-final clash against Santhome School, Chennai with an easy win over La Martiniere, Kolkata. The tall frontline of Mallya Aditi made La Martiniere’s presence nearly invisible inside the paint. Many of Mallya Aditi’s baskets came inside the ‘D’ and their higher field goal percentage had them take a 21-4 lead at the end of the first quarter, and a 35-9 lead at halftime. The third quarter finally saw the momentum swing slightly in favour of Kolkata as they matched their opponents shot for shot mainly through Charushi. But the dual scoring effort of Aastha and Thangam coupled with the assistance of their teammates especially on the defensive end meant that Kolkata failed to score in double digits in any of the four quarters. 

Mallya Aditi International School, Bengaluru (Aastha 17, Thangam 16) bt La Martiniere, Kolkata (Charushi 11) 59-22 (21-4, 14-5, 9-9, 15-4)

Game 56, Court no. 2: Vellamal School, Chennai v. Oakridge International School, Hyderabad 

The undefeated Vellamal School team from Chennai squared off against the winless Oakridge International School, Hyderabad in the last league game of the ISBL National Finals 2014. The win-loss record did not change as Vellamal School broke no sweat against the Hyderabad school boys. The Vellamal boys maintained their top form with a quick lead against the Hyderabad boys, which kept growing through the game. It was such a one-sided contest that the Vellamal boys began to showboat with some acrobatic layups and alley-oops in the open floor. The skill level displayed from the Chennai boys were at a much higher level as compared to the Hyderabad boys – be it rebounding, passing, ball-handling or shooting. The boys from Oakridge International School will go home winless from this tournament. On the other hand, Vellamal School, Chennai advance to the semi-finals on a perfect 4-0 record. 

Vellamal School, Chennai (A. Surya 18) bt Oakridge International School, Hyderabad (Viraj Reddy 17) 88-48 (22-7, 20-15, 21-17, 25-9)