PATNA: On a day of fluctuating fortunes Kerala, Punjab men and Gujarat women made it to the quarterfinals in contrasting fashion in the Junior National Basketball Championship at the Patliputra Sports Complex in Patna on Sunday.
While defending champions Kerala made light work of the men from Maharashtra 73-56 as the girls from Gujarat surprised a rampaging bunch of cagers from Haryana 68-61 while Tamil Nadu and Punjab teams in both the categories qualified for the quarterfinals of the eight-day nationals in style.
In an exciting girls' league game, Hetushree Sorathiya and Naomi Lakhanpal gelled well to share 26 points as Gujarat rallied splendidly to turn the tables on Haryana by seven points. While Hetushree scored a team-high 14 points, Naomi contributed 12 points as the game-high 18-point effort from Haryana forward Suman went in vain.
Gujarat had a slow start and lost the first period 15-18. After taking time to settle into their groove they outclassed Haryana in the second period 18-10 and take a handy five-point advantage at the breather. After the break, Haryana implemented a close woman-to-woman marking which took Gujarat by surprise. Haryana's change in strategy paid dividends as they managed to regain a point lead by winning the third period 16-10.
In the final frame, Gujarat gave Haryana the same taste of their medicine. By scoring baskets from all corners with a pinch of fast-break points, Gujarat girls dominated the last quarter 25-18 to record their first win after they suffered back-to-back defeats in their earlier two games.
In another upset for the day, the lanky Punjab girls scored baskets at will in the last period to stun last years' runners-up Kerala 95-71. For the winners Sukhman Deep Kaur (22) and Harsimran Kaur (15) did the bulk of scoring while Sreekala's 21-point effort for Kerala went in vain.
Earlier in the morning session, holders Kerala handed Maharashtra their first defeat. A day after Maharashtra managed to upset Delhi, they failed to get into their groove and suffer a 17-point (73-56) drubbing.
Last years' semifinalists, Delhi fought their way back in the meet with a facile 20-point (61-41) win over Gujarat. With this defeat Gujarat crashed out of the tournament without winning a single game.
The teams from Tamil Nadu in both the men and women categories maintained their winning run and qualified for the last stage with ease.
In the men's section, Michael Raj fired a game-high 30 points as TS Santosh contributed 22 as Tamil Nadu thrashed Karnataka 90-65. In a late evening clash, Tamil Nadu girls played a terrific last quarter to come-from-behind and outclass Maharashtra 86-59. The quarter-wise progress for the winners read 17-27, 20-17, 22-7, 27-8.
MAHARASHTRA COACH BUSY UPDATING SCORES ON WHATSAAP DURING MATCH
Maharashtra girls' team failed to maintain the lead they had to finally get a sound beating from Tamil Nadu in the second half, and finally suffer their first defeat by a big margin.
While the girls were on the court fighting hard in finding the baskets in the crucial third quarter, coach of the Maharashtra team Jitendra (Jitu) Shinde from Jalgaon was busy chatting and updating scores on a Whatsaap group titled M.S.B.A. Group from the team bench.
While head coach Jayant Deshmukh of Amravati had no answer to the stop the conversion rate of Tamil Nadu, he didn't even get any support from other members in the bench. At the same time teams coach Shinde was seen active on a WhatsApp group for almost 30 minutes during the crucial third and fourth quarters where Maharashtra cagers flattered, updating scores for other followers in the group.
Men: Rajasthan (Rajeev 31) bt Chandigarh (Ajmer 16) 87-60 (24-14, 17-17, 17-15, 29-14); Punjab (Rajan 25, Princepal Singh 17) bt Tamil Nadu (M Lokeshwaran 18, TS Santosh 13) 88-59 (21-16, 29-8, 18-14, 20-21); Delhi (Harithik C 15) bt Gujarat (Rajan K 11) 61-41 (17-10, 19-7, 13-10, 12-14); Kerala (Tom Jose 15, Pranav Prince 18) bt Maharashtra (Raza Shaikh 11, Aaqib Zariwala 11, Ptitish Kokate 10) 73-56 (24-7, 19-10, 18-18, 12-21); Bihar (Jai Prakash 14) bt West Bengal (Manish Rajak 10) 48-45 (9-7, 10-16, 16-6, 13-16); Tamil Nadu (S Michael Raj 30, TS Santosh 22) bt Karnataka (Prashant T 17) 90-65 (20-11, 24-23, 29-26, 17-5).
Women: Tamil Nadu (R Shruthi 29) bt Maharashtra (Abha Lad 18, Siya Deodhar 16) 86-59 (17-27, 20-17, 22-7, 27-8); Punjab (Sukhman DK 22, Harsimran Kaur 15) bt Kerala (Sreekala 21, Anumaria CS 15) 95-71 (18-16, 22-21, 22-16, 32-18); Madhya Pradesh (Ruchi P 21, Neha K 17) Delhi (Khushi A 13) 72-50 (17-22, 23-5, 22-11, 10-12); Gujarat (Hetushree Sorathiya 14, Naomi Lakhanpal 12) bt Haryana (Suman 18) 68-61 (15-17, 18-10, 10-16, 25-18); Rajasthan (Rashi Khotani 29) bt Andhra Pradesh (B Pallavi 23) 50-49 (9-10, 6-7, 18-23, 17-9).