The penultimate day of the league stages at the 68th Junior National Basketball Championship turned out to be a day of celebration for the home teams yesterday. Both Uttar Pradesh teams won their qualifying matches promoting them to Level 1. They are now through to the pre-quarterfinals.
The UP girls had a relatively easy outing in their qualifying game with a whopping 80-32 win against West Bengal. Vaishnavi once again led the scoring for UP with 28 points in a completely one-sided contest. The UP boys, however, fought a tough battle against a hungry Karnataka side. Despite trailing by double digits, UP maintained their composure and worked on cutting into the Karnataka lead. Prasun (23 points) and Navin (21 points) helped to secure the come-from-behind 76-62 win for UP. Karnataka centre Pratyansh had 22 points in the defeat.
In the other qualifying matches, both the Madhya Pradesh teams knocked out both the Andhra Pradesh teams in blowout victories, leading from start to finish. The MP teams have now moved one step closer to the knockout stages.
In the level 1 games this morning, the Kerala girls sailed past Delhi, led by Jayalakshmi’s 25 points, in a 70-35 win. The Punjab boys also remained unbeaten with a 91-64 win against Rajasthan. Punjab forward Kanwar Gurbaz displayed his all-round skill putting up 27 points in the win. Neighbours Haryana were also victorious, edging past Chhattisgarh 63-57. While Chhattisgarh slipped to the bottom of the table, Haryana remained in contention for the knock-out stages.
In the second half, the Chhattisgarh girls faced the upstart Gujarat girls team, who seemed over-matched today. Gujarat relied on ball movement and unselfish play and were able to stay within single digits of Chhattisgarh for the first three quarters. However, fatigue caught up with them in the fourth quarter, while the tireless Chhattisgarh girls dominated outscoring Gujarat 24 to 6 in the final period to close out on a 71-46 win.
In other level 1 girls’ matches, Punjab got the better of neighbor Haryana, thanks to a burst of offense in the third quarter. Punjab’s Rajandeep Kaur (12 points) and Aakarshan Sandhu (12 points) were the differentiating factors responsible for the 55-28 win. The Maharashtra girls also had success, fighting with Tamil Nadu for the top spot in Group B.