Mumbai South East retains title, Pune girls triumph

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Mumbai, May 18 (UNI) Mumbai South East boys retained their crown, while last year's runners-up Pune upset defending champions Thane to clinch the girls' title, in the 59th Junior Maharashtra State Inter District Basketball Championship, organised by the Greater Mumbai Central District Basketball Association, at the Naigaum Police ground here today.

Favourites Mumbai South East overcame Pune 64-62 in a thrilling boys' final that went down to the wire and was settled in the last three seconds.

Pune girls avenged their defeat in the championship round last year and shocked Thane 73-51 in an exciting final, after coming back into the match in the fourth quarter.

Pune dominated the first two quarters, but endured a remarkable challenge by Thane, who led 42-40 at the end of the third quarter.

But Pune, who were on target, at regular intervals in the fourth and final quarter, capitalized on Thane's poor shooting and eased to a comfortable triumph.

Powered by player of the tournament Shamsher Makrani and the brilliant Iftekar Quereshi, Mumbai South East boys held the edge in the first session to lead 37-25 at half time.

With the match well in their control, Mumbai South East surprisingly became complacent in the second session. As they relaxed, Pune came back strongly in the third and fourth quarters to give their formidable opponents a huge scare.

Pune brilliantly narrowed the margin at 49-44 at the end of the third quarter, as Mumbai South East seemed to have lost their way.

It inspired Pune to an improved performance in the pulsating fourth and final quarter that could have swung the match either way.

After trailing by just a solitary point at 54-55, thanks to the individual brilliance of Ajinkya Mehta that earned him and his team two crucial three-pointers, Pune finally caught up with Mumbai South East at 61-61 with two minutes and 40 seconds remaining.

The score didn't change even with one minute and 10 seconds remaining, until Mumbai South East's Iftekar Quereshi sunk in a three-pointer for a crucial 64-61 advantage with only three seconds to go.

But Pune didn't give up. They applied immense pressure and were rewarded two free-throws. But they managed to basket only one before the sound of the hooter sealed their fate.

Results: FINALS: Boys: Mumbai South East 64 (Shamsher Makrani 22, Shadaab Shaikh 14) bt Pune 62 (Akshay Bhosale 14, Ajinkya Mehta 14).

HT: 37-25.

Girls: Pune 73 (Nikita Kapoor 21, Tanvi Shewale 15, Shweta Mundada 15) bt Thane 51(Aviya D. 13, Amruta Buskute 10).

HT: 37-24.

Best Player: Boys: Shamsher Makrani (Mumbai South East). Girls: Tanvi Shewale (Pune).

UNI XR SR AB BST1811

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