Surat (Gujarat): [By Kevin Somani]: The Gujarat State Basketball Association (GSBA) organised Junior State Championships from 25th November to 27th November 2021 at Surat. The tournament had two categories, under-19 boys and under-19 girls. Baroda won in the girl’s category, retaining the title for the 17th consecutive year by defeating their traditional rivals Bhavnagar. Ahmedabad defeated host team Surat by 83 – 58 to win the boys category.

The tournament was played on the newly constructed two basketball courts at the Umra Police Ground, inaugurated by Shri C R Patil and Shri Harsh Sanghavi. The three-day tournament was conducted in a league cum knockout format. The boy’s category had 12 teams in three groups and eight teams in two groups. Bhavnagar and Baroda are the big powerhouses in the state. Surat, Ahmedabad and Rajkot were some other contenders as well.

Shafiq Shaikh, GSBA Secretary, said, “Surat District Basketball Association took the responsibility on 14th November, and by 25th November, we are on the court. They did all the preparations in 11 days from accommodation to better playing conditions; everything was really good.”

“We are back hosting tournaments at the state level after two years, and this was one of the best tournaments in recent history. The place and the matches were really good. The last few games were narrowly won, which shows the quality of teams we have.”

The Surat boys team had some players who have played at the national levels, such as Karan Mahadik, Aryaman Shah and Pavan Desai. They were the runners up for the tournament after losing to Ahmedabad in the finals. The girl’s team went all the way to the semi-finals before suffering a tough defeat from Baroda. Kashish Sorathiya, Sakshi Sabalpara and Khushboo Aggarwal were part of the team.

Sarfaraz Zirak, coach of the Surat teams, commented, “We were a strong side, we had the home-court advantage, we played our hearts out for our supports. Sometimes the things don’t click as you want, which creates pressure to perform. I’m sure by next year, we will be better than this.” He further added, “You see, even after not playing for a couple of years, we performed and that too really well. There is nothing lost here. We now know what our drawbacks were, and we will definitely work on it.”

Baroda girls team entered into finals by thrashing Surat by 32:17. The team earlier had won against newbie Navsari and Ahmedabad. Naomi Lakhanpal, Khushi Shah and Aditi Vasudev were some of the top players for the team. The trio is called up for the national camp as well.

Ahmedabad boys team looked strong when they won over the fierce Gandhinagar in the first match and then Sabarkantha in a high-intensity game. Vedanth Jain, Sahil Pallath, Sashmit Rore were the star players for the team.

The selected players will go to the camp to represent Gujarat at the National level.

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