Bhushan of Bishop Cotton Boys School, Bengaluru takes part in the Slam Dunk contest held a day prior to the semifinals. Bhushan, along with Ajit of Nav Bharti Public School were declared the joint winners.

Bhushan of Bishop Cotton Boys School, Bengaluru takes part in the Slam Dunk contest held a day prior to the semifinals. Bhushan, along with Ajit of Nav Bharti Public School were declared the joint winners.

Reports by Vishnu, Gopal and Kabir 

Game 57, Court 1 (School Girls Semi-final): Montfort School, Delhi v. Government School, Ludhiana

The first semifinal in the school girls category tipped off today morning with Montfort School, Delhi facing Government School, Ludhiana. The game started off close, with several lead changes in the first quarter but that was largely due to Ludhiana missing a majority of their free throws. The Montfort girls displayed good ball movement and the Ludhiana team was unable to execute its signature full court man-to-man defense well enough, which led to some easy buckets in the paint for the Delhi girls. At the end of the first quarter, Ludhiana was not playing the game they were capable of and were clinging on to a 4 point lead being up 18-14. But things changed quickly as the game progressed to the second quarter. Ludhiana kicked into gear and applied their devastating trademark full court press. Delhi girls were simply unable to penetrate the Ludhiana full court press, as the Ludhiana girls forced multiple turnovers, which completely demoralized the Delhi team. Most of the rest of the game was played on Ludhiana’s offensive half, as they did not even allow the Delhi team to advance the ball past half court. The Delhi girls sorely lacked a true point guard to break down Ludhiana’s full-court press. This offensive and defensive explosion led to Ludhiana scoring 33 points in the 2nd quarter alone and Delhi scoring only 5. The score at halftime was 51-19 and the game already seemed over at that point. In the 3rd and 4th quarters, Ludhiana carried forward the surge and went full throttle to the finish line, reaching the triple digit mark with a minute left in regulation. Ludhiana set a tournament scoring record in this game with 105 points and advanced to the school girls’ finals. 

Government School, Ludhiana (Karanjit 42 Pts, Gagandeep 20 Pts 12 Reb 5 Ast) bt Montfort School, Delhi (Sushantika 14 Pts 6 Reb) 105-24 (18-14, 33-5, 26-5, 28-0)

Game 58, Court 1 (College Women Semi-final): R. A. Podar, Mumbai v. Government College for Girls, Ludhiana

Ludhiana has been one of the most consistent cities so far, with all 3 of their teams reaching the semi-finals and they carried forward this consistency with a strong performance against Mumbai in the first college women’s semi-finals. Mumbai struggled early with both their offense and defense and could not get into the rhythm of the game. Having brought only 6 players, Mumbai had a practically non-existent bench. Ludhiana capitalized in the first quarter and raced to a 22-9 lead. Mumbai fought back in the 2nd quarter matching Ludhiana’s 16 points, but the 13 point lead still stood with the score being 38-35 at the half. To add to their plight, Anisha Kotian of Mumbai went down and got injured forcing the sole bench player into the game. For Ludhiana, Nagma Mirza was on fire from behind the arc, nailing 3 after 3. She finished the game with six 3-pointers. Ludhiana’s bigs were gobbling up offensive rebounds and converting put-backs or forcing the issue by getting to the ‘charity stripe’. Even though Anisha Kotian came back to contribute, it was simply a case of too little too late. In the end, the Mumbai players looked tired and the lack of a bench was evident. This game was a testament to the importance of fitness and bench depth in basketball. With this emphatic win, the Government College for Women advanced to the finals to be played tomorrow. 

Government College for Girls, Ludhiana (Nirmal Kaur 22 Pts 10 Reb, Nagma Mirza 20 Pts) bt. R. A. Podar, Mumbai (Ankita Negi 14) 65-41 (22-9, 16-16, 20-5, 4-11)

Game 59, Court 1 (School Girls’ Semi-final): Santhome School, Chennai v. Mallya Aditi International School, Bengaluru 

The second semi-final in the school girls’ category was between the undefeated Santhome School girls team and the girls from Mallya Aditi International School, Bengaluru. The battle of the two southern teams was a one-sided affair as the Bengaluru girls were no competition against the superior Chennai team. Chennai followed their trademark unselfish approach of team basketball with good ball movement and finding the open man. Chennai fed the ball a lot to the post and their post player Ria Sharon was very effective against the weak Bengaluru defense, putting up 22 points. She had a double-double with 10 rebounds as well. The unselfish team philosophy was on clear display throughout the game as Chennai notched up 20 team assists as compared to just 6 team assist by Bengaluru. Although Bengaluru was rebounding quite well against the Chennai team, they were unable to convert second chance opportunities into buckets. Chennai’s smothering defense forced 24 turnovers from the Bengaluru team, which were converted into easy baskets at the other end for Chennai.  This was in stark contrast to the Chennai team, who took good care of the ball and ended the game with only 3 total turnovers. Santhome School now advances to the finals where they will face the formidable girls team from Ludhiana.  

Santhome School, Chennai (Ria Sharon 21 pts 10 reb, Deepika B 16 pts, 5 asts) bt Mallya Aditi International School, Bangalore (Thangum T 22 pts 11 reb, Arushi A. 15 pts, 6 reb) 91-56 (30-20, 20-11, 19-10, 22-15) 

Game 60, Court 1 (School Boys’ Semi-Final): Velammal School, Chennai v. Bhavan’s Prominent School, Indore

Chennai’s seemed strong favourites in the first school boys’ semi-final against Indore, since they were unbeaten so far in the tournament. However, the underdogs Indore put their winning streak to the test with an inspired performance. In the first quarter, Chennai did not seem to be taking the match seriously enough. The teams were neck-and-neck with Chennai holding on to a slim 2-point lead at the end of the first quarter with the score at 29-27. Chennai bounced back by outscoring Indore by 10 points, in the second quarter to attain a seemingly comfortable 12-point lead. Indore however, did not let their intensity level fall and managed to keep the lead well within sight. Even though Chennai held a steady yet small double digit lead for most of the second half, the game seemed close, with both teams battling for the boards and hustling for loose balls. It was the fourth quarter however, which made this match the most entertaining game of the tournament so far. The game suddenly became close with clutch 3-pointers from Indore cutting the lead to single digits in the dying moments of the game. Just when Indore looked like they were poised for a comeback, they were unable to foul a Chennai player on the inbounds play, which led to a fast break dagger ‘and-1’ by M. Lokesh. This put the nail in the coffin and pushed the lead out of Indore’s reach. Surya had a monster game for Chennai with 39 points and 20 rebounds. This was the highest scoring game of the tournament with both teams registering a total score of over 200 points. Interestingly, the coach opted not play Baladaneshwar, Chennai’s star guard, for most of the second half. However, the rest of the team sealed the victory for Chennai, who are now through to the finals of the tournament.

Vellamal School, Chennai (Surya 39 pts 20 reb, Baladaneshwar 28 pts 7 asts) bt Bhavan’s Prominent School, Indore (MS Khan 28 pts 6 reb, MS Sisodia 25 pts 7 reb) 110-103 (29-27, 32-22, 24-22, 25-32)

Game 61, Court 1 (College Girls’ Semi-Final): MOP Vaishnav, Chennai v. Rajasthan College, Jaipur

MOP Vaishav, Chennai entered into the semi-finals unbeaten and hoped to carry forward the momentum into the finals. Jaipur was the second seed from their group and were widely considered to be the underdog team. Chennai has made a name for themselves by displaying good ball movement and playing solid team basketball. As the game started Chennai jumped to an early lead despite struggling on the offensive end. At the end of the first quarter, the women from Rajasthan College, Jaipur trailed by 6 points. It was a slow paced game with Chennai more or less maintaining the lead for the majority of the game. Come fourth quarter however, things would get a lot more interesting. Having clawed back into the game, Jaipur trailed by just 4 points as the fourth quarter began. Yet, the thought that Jaipur might actually win the game entered nobody’s mind. Chennai widened the gap in the first couple of minutes but a persistent Jaipur managed to dig themselves out of the hole with some rapid-fire 3-pointers and skillful lay-ins. The game was tied with about 50 seconds left as K. Prithi of Chennai was fouled. She converted on both the free throws giving Chennai a 2 point lead. Jaipur’s coach called a timeout and set up an inbounds play. As soon as the inbounds pass was made to Jaipur’s Anita, she received a solid screen and pulled up from way downtown and made it, giving her team a 1 point lead. Chennai managed to tie the game with free-throws after a silly foul by Jaipur. Jaipur got the ball with less than 15 seconds on the clock. They rotated brilliantly which left Manisha open on the 3-point arc. She ‘swished’ it, giving her team the lead with less than 5 seconds to go which was too little time for Chennai. This miraculous victory came after a back and forth and exhilarating fourth quarter, a fitting match to earn the spot in the finals.

Game 62, Court 1 (College Boys’ Semi-final) Kirorimal College, Delhi vs. Islamiya Karimiya College, Indore

The first college men’s semifinal of the afternoon proved to be a mouth watering affair. A pumped up Indore side came out firing in the first quarter with some incredible highlight plays that included a baseline drive ended in a left hand dunk by Indore’s forward Animesh  Jain. Five minutes into the first quarter, Islamiya Karmiya trailed 11-12, but then Kirorimal’s class kicked in.

Unperturbed by Indore’s individual brilliance, Kirorimal kept things simple and relied on the crisp fundamental post plays of centre Pulkit Sachdev. After the first quarter, it seemed like Indore ran into a brick wall as Kirorimal began clamping down on the defensive end and running their trademark plays on offence. Kirorimal’s point guard Harish was the head of the offensive snake for Kirorimal as he beautifully controlled the tempo of the game for his team. He had four assists in this game and knocked down four crucial three pointers. The guard play of Dheeraj Rawat was also instrumental in helping Kirorimal pile up the lead – Dheeraj had 16 points and 5 assists. The real difference between the two teams, however, was the play of the big men. Kirorimal’s Pulkit Sachdeva and Yuvraj Dahiya pulled down a combined 30 rebounds, which included 11 offensive boards. On the other hand, the big men of Indore, Christopher and Animesh were largely ineffective on the defensive end and were unable to secure defensive rebounds, leading to 17 second chance points for the Delhi team. The game quickly turned into a blowout after the first quarter and Kirorimal booked a berth in the final of this tournament to be held tomorrow.

Kirorimal College, New Delhi (Yuvraj Dahiya 24 pts 17 reb, Lalit Pal 21 pts, D Rawat 16 pts 5 asts, Pulkit Sachdeva 14 pts, 13 reb) bt Islamiya Karimiya College, Indore (Christopher Minhas 23 pts 11 reb, Animesh Jain 21 pts 9 reb) 101-63 (26-16, 26-13, 20-13, 29-21)