A few mispasses here and there but Kerala held its nerves to outwit defending champion Punjab 76-75 in a girls' Group 'A' clash of the 36th Youth National basketball championship at the PSG Tech Indoor Stadium courts here on Wednesday.
Only the other day, Punjab won an extra-time thriller but, this time around, it failed to get past a determined Kerala unit.
Punjab maintained a sizeable lead for most part but Kerala, which finished fifth in the last edition, fought back to take the lead midway through the third quarter. It did not give free space to its opponent to rotate the ball and feed it to the post.
Ann Mary (25 pts) and Aleema Antony (21 pts) were the major contributors with the latter scoring the winner. Harsimran Kaur (39 pts) did all the hard work for Punjab but was left disappointed to finish on the losing side.
Kerala's chief coach V.M. Premkumar was a happy man. "I had been with the youth team for some time and I know their strengths. They did a great offensive job and, in defence everybody gave their heart out. My credit goes to all the ten players."
Host Tamil Nadu had something to cheer as its girls scored a comfortable 68-50 win over Maharashtra. Sathya (28 pts) turned out to be the top scorer for the team.
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