Calm Punjab, dominant Kerala win boys and girls’ basketball gold medals

Punjab celebrating their gold medal effort in boys basketball finals at the Khelo India School Games

A calm Punjab found a second wind in the fourth quarter to beat back a stiff Delhi challenge and edge out a 78-76 winner of the boys’ final in the basketball competition in the inaugural Khelo India School Games the final at the KD Jadhav Stadium here today. The boys’ final contrasted the girls’ contest which Kerala won comfortably against Haryana 90-47.

Delhi appeared to have learnt lessons from its 56-65 defeat by Punjab in the scrapping league game and came within sniffing distance of the gold medal when it led 57-49 at the end of the third quarter. Punjab’s grit and resilience helped it edge ahead with a last-gasp basket by its skipper Princepal Singh to prevent the final from slipping into extra time.

Surprisingly, Punjab’s all-court skill came to the fore only when it was pushed to a corner. Rajan spearheaded the late charge, taking on the additional responsibility of playmaker as Binod was shadowed admirably by Amit. It was hard to stop the heart from reaching out to the gallant Delhi lads but they were perhaps undone by a tactic that backfired on them.

Delhi coach BS Hooda’s ploy of fielding his tallest player Aryan was just the opening that Punjab was looking for. It did not seem to matter that his team-mates found little use for Aryan under the rival basket but Princepal Singh was able to feint his way past the giant and score some crucial points. By the time Nijish returned to replace Aryan, Punjab had found the momentum.

Kerala in action against Haryana during their gold medal effort in girls basketball finals at the Khelo India School Games

Earlier, Kerala powered their way to the crown with a facile victory over Haryana in. Kerala came out with all guns blazing and opened up a sizable lead in the first quarter, leaving Haryana dazed like a rabbit would freeze when facing a car’s headlights.

Fans who turned up at the KD Jadhav Stadium this morning expected a tight contest since Kerala had to strive hard to eke out a 74-65 win when the teams met in the league encounter.  Kerala’s aggressive tactics, built around the tall trio of Ann Mary of Kottayam, Anu Mariya of Thalassery and skipper Sreekala R of Nalanchira, caught the Haryana side unawares.

Kerala celebrating their gold medal effort in girls basketball finals at the Khelo India School Games

By the time Haryana countered with its fast-breaks – with Ritika, Suman and Sonika finding the speed – to find the basket with any regularity, Kerala had opened an unassailable lead. The tall Kerala girls were visibly tired when play resumed after the half-time break with the score at 55-19 but Haryana was unable to make much headway and had to be content with silver medal.

Scores:

FinalsBoys: Punjab 78 (Rajan 26, Price Pal 21, Harpreet 10, Binod 14) beat Delhi 76 (Jai Parkash 16, Ankit 15, Ashok 15). Half-time: 36-36; 

Girls: Kerala 90 (Sreekala R 31, Ann Mary 21) beat Haryana 47 (Ritika 17, Meena 10). Half-time: 55-19.

Bronze medal play-off: Boys: Madhya Pradesh 89 (Divyaraj Singh Rathore 30, Mani Thakur16) beat Haryana 84 (Rampal 20, Kapil Mor 22). Half-time: 45-37;

Girls: Delhi 70 (Kritika Dhingra 19, Khushi Ahlawat 19) beat Karnataka 57 (Grishma N 14, Manasa 10). Half-time: 39-27.