Baroda girls and Ahmedabad boys have been crowned champions of the 2021 Gujarat State Junior Basketball Championship.

While this was Baroda girls’ 17th straight title, Ahmedabad boys won after a gap of 20 years.

The Gujarat State Basketball Association (GSBA) Junior Championships continued on Day-3. Today’s games featured four semi-finals in the morning session to seed the teams for finals played in the evening.

The Gujarat Junior Basketball Championships was conducted in a league cum knockout format. The men’s category has four groups with three teams each, and the women’s group has two groups with four teams each.

Day 3 saw six matches in two sessions of morning 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM and evening 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM from both the gender categories.

Let’s look into all the matches played today:

Finals:

Girls:

Baroda 54:38 Bhavnagar

Baroda Girls

Image credit: Kevin Somani

No tournament is over in Gujarat if there is no Baroda versus Bhavnagar. One of the most significant traditional rivalries in Gujarat basketball. The bout delivered what was expected.

Baroda in this game had both their crucial players, Khushi Shah and Naomi Lakhanpal, doubtful in the game. While one featured in the former was not part of the starting five, the latter did. It did not appear that Lakhanpal was hurt, and she continued to dominate the whole tournament.

The team, however, was not as dominant on defence. Bhavnagar quickly scored 12 points in the first 10 minutes of the game. Leenaba Vala, Prasha Dabhi and Manshi Singh all scored for the team in the first quarter. Manshi Singh was on fire for the team as she scored 24 points in the game. The first two free throws for her were enough to be a deadeye for the whole game. She was out of gas in the final quarter, which slowed down the Bhavnagar offence.

Tejashree Sarvaiya continued her fine form from the semi-final game to score the first goal for Baroda. Lakhanpal had 27 points beside her name in the scoresheet; from tough drive-ins to long-range three, she played a massive role in Kalanagari’s win in the finals. Shah’s performance was excellent as well. Even though she was injured, she scored whenever the team needed it.

This game was back and forth before Baroda went carnage in the fourth quarter and clinched the title for the 17th consecutive time.

Surat 58:83 Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad Boys

Image credit: Kevin Somani

The game was expected to be tempestuous, as both teams have played high intensity and aggressive in the build-up to this final.

Ahmedabad opened their scoring with a three-pointer, which showed that containing them would be an arduous task for Surat. Sahil Pallath, Nisarg Tarade and Siddhant Jain all took their chances shooting at the basket. Later on, Vendant Jain joined the party as well.

The team relied more on individual quality and attacked from the diagonals of the basket. Due to Surat’s 3-2 shape in defence, openings were hard to find for the team. The team then went into opening the space and shooting from outside the restricted area. It was an all offence game for Ahmedabad, and the team retaliated well to their exploits on defence.

Surat, on the other side, expected an easy win. The crowd was at capacity, well enough to create mental pressure on the players. The players fed off the crowd’s energy and went on a short scoring streak at several moments in the game.

Maitrey scored 6 points for five minutes for the team, and then Kautilya came into score. Captain Aryaman Shah and star player Karan Mahadik were quiet but shot 3s differently from bailing them out from a stagnant scoreboard.

Even though the duo scored in less volume, they came into the limelight in the late second half of the game. Mahadik went on to take six points in the fourth quarter but was not able enough to match the pace of the Ahmedabad team. A weak Surat defence allowed Ahmedabad to score more than 20 points in three of the four quarters.

Maruthan Kasi Rajan, who has played for India, coached the Ahmedabad side, talked in his post-game huddle, “You see the scoreboard, a 25-point lead win. That tell’s how good our defence was. Their scoring stopped after a point of time, and we kept scoring. Good game, boys!”

Girls Semi-finals:

Baroda 32:17 Surat

Baroda entered this game with two injuries, Khushi Shah’s ankle sprain and Naomi Lakhanpal’s doubtful knee. Shah did not play this bout, but Lakhanpal played the entire match to march Baroda to the finals.

Baroda took the early lead 10 points in the first quarter and stopped Surat to score two points. Captain Nidhi Chauhan, Tejashree Sarvaiya and Aditi Vasudev shone in the absence of their star shooters. The team already knew to create gaps in Surat’s defence and attack with drive-ins and lay-ups. It was the same strategy that Rajkot was partially able to pull off.

They hard-pressed Kashish Sorathiya, Sakshi Sabalpara and Khushboo Aggarwal throughout the game to stop them from scoring. This led to Surat taking tough shots which did not convert into points. They scored only 17 points, with the third quarter being scoreless.

It seemed like a cakewalk for Baroda. They did not concede a lot of fouls and were able to pickpockets quickly. The team’s high line of defence helped with creating fast break opportunities.

Both teams had a scoreless quarter in the game. Once Baroda got the lead in the early part of the game, Surat never came back.

Bhavnagar 62:33 Ahmedabad

Another big-time rivalry, Bhavnagar and Ahmedabad, played their hearts out to secure a place in the finals.

Bhavnagar started dominantly by scoring 12 points in the first quarter. Tisha Joshi and Mahshi Singh often got into the restricted area without fearing the big Aahana George guarding the paint. The team used quick ball rotations and pace to break down the Karnavati defence.

They went unrest in the third quarter by scoring 27 and conceding only three points. The defence shaped up in a 2-3 zone or 2-2-1 zone to create pressure on the ball handler. Unlike the men’s team, they played more zonal and conservative defence, often attempting steals and hard-pressed the offence.

It was a challenging game for Ahmedabad. They were playing against a well-oiled machine and couldn’t get anything going with Bhavnagar’s compact defence. Aahana George hit midrange and post shots to register points for the team. Vishwa Panchal and Snehi Parekh joined her.

 

Boys Semi-finals

Bhavnagar 52:59 Surat

It was the powerhouse Bhavnagar facing the host’s Surat. Both were yet to taste defeat, and a loss here would cost them an exit from the semi-finals.

As mentioned earlier, Bhavnagar deployed a high line of defence and tried to get into the minds of their opponents. The team kept moving, and the man-to-man press applied early in the game did help but only in the first quarter. They scored 21 points in the first quarter and restricted the hosts to just seven points.

In the second quarter, the score swapped, with Bhavnagar scoring eight points and Surat dominating with 19 points.

Jaydeep Makwana and Rohan Kureshi went on a scoring streak. The duo were the only scorers for the team in the first quarter. Kureshi also scored 4 three points throughout the game. His ejection in the second half slowed down the offence.

Surat took this opportunity to dominate the remaining three quarters by scoring in double digits in each of them. Sarthak came out as a surprise scorer in the game after being quiet the whole tournament. There were concerns with his shoulder after a hard fall while taking a lay-up.

Aryaman Shah, Pavan Desai were other scorers while the Bhavnagar defence shut down Karan Mahadik. Mahadik was easily in the trap of Bhavnagar defence. He tried to play solo several times, which made him overlook open players. Once the Bhavnagar defence could not press hard, Surat started taking long shots.

Bhavnagar could never come back once Kureshi got ejected. The team found it challenging to score after pressing hard in the first half.

Baroda 52:53 Ahmedabad

The close contest between Baroda and Ahmedabad was worth watching. After a poor start, both the teams went bonkers with shooting.

Baroda team captain Ankit Patel was the top scorer for the team, constantly going for finishing in the restricted area. Out of Baroda’s 52 points, he scored 22 points. Due to slasher like play style, Ahmedabad opted for crashing in the paint to stop Patel from scoring, which led him to an injury above the eye. Kartvya Mehta and Shahaluddin Ansari shot threes to create issues for the Ahmedabad defence.

Ahmedabad did not hold back and was able to stay a point or two behind Baroda till the final quarter where they took over the lead and converted it into a win. SahilPallath got a lot of trips to the free-throw line and converted most of them. Pallath got six points from the charity stripe in the crucial fourth quarter.

Baroda had a chance to take it into overtime as they got two free throws with five seconds remaining. Pallath converted the only one of the two free throws which locked Ahmedabad’s place in the finals.

Check all the Instagram highlights here.

The players who participated in the tournament will be called up national camp to finalise the squad for nationals.

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Kevin Somani
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