Story by Jan Lin. Pictures by Les Tan and reader Marvin Lowe. Catch highlights on RedSportsTV.
Toa Payoh Sports Hall, Tuesday, April 22, 2008 – Raffles Girls' School (RGS) beat Nanyang Girls’ High School 56-45 for their first B Division Championship title in two decades yesterday. It was a doubly sweet victory for the 2007 runner-up, who finally found the key to dismantle their nemesis Nanyang Girls' who had beaten them by three points in the first round of the Nationals.
This is the fifth B Division Championship final since 1988 for the Rafflesians and it was their third final against the 5-time B Division champions Nanyang Girls’. In their previous two final meetings in 1997 and 2001, Nanyang Girls’ has beaten RGS.
While RGS were driven by a combination of revenge and hunger for glory, Nanyang Girls’, on the other hand, were in search of a revival of their golden years of domination between 1997 to 2002 when they missed out on the B Division title only once in 2000.
The final was a straightforward game with Rafflesians dominating and leading the match right from the first quarter, giving little space and chance for Nanyang Girls’ to turn the game around. RGS were significantly more composed and patient than their opponents, whose courageous performance this afternoon was littered with inaccurate shooting.
While Nanyang Girls’ struggled with their offense, Sharlene Huang (#13) was a fortifying figure under the board, preventing RGS from going on a shooting spree. Scoring a total of 11 points for her team, Sharlene was equally commendable for her effort to repeatedly turn her team around from defence to offence.
Nanyang Girls’ inability to overcome their nerves saw them squander one too many scoring opportunities, especially their failure to convert the countless free throws awarded to them. The Rafflesians were often more deadly in their attacks, particularly in their fast breaks led by the 2008 Championship Most Valuable Player (MVP) Hannah Ng (#4). RGS’ Hsiang Cheng Chia (#6) and Joanne Ho (#14) were just as accurate in their attacks.
Lapses in attention by the RGS defence at the end of each quarter however allowed a determined Nanyang Girls’ to tailgate them through to the fourth quarter. Nanyang Girls’ scored four points in the last few seconds of the first quarter to narrow the first quarter deficit to just 10-13 and likewise in the second quarter, Nicole Lau (#11) claimed two precious points in the final second to help Nanyang Girls’ end the second quarter trailing by only seven points (23-30).
RGS were caught napping at the beginning of the second half, allowing Nanyang Girls’ to fight back and once again narrowing the gap to three points at 27-30. This woke RGS up and they promptly pulled away to reinstate the comfortable lead they held earlier. Yet in the final 12 seconds of the third quarter, Nanyang Girls’ once again nicked seven consecutive points including a beautiful three-pointer through the talented Eva Seah (#7).
With that, Nanyang Girls’ in fact outscored RGS 15-14 in the third quarter and were looking sharper than ever when they returned for the fourth quarter. Despite trailing 38-44, and even as they continued to squander their free throws, the Nanyang Girls’ attack was beginning to trouble the RGS defence.
Just as Nanyang Girls’ were experiencing a revival through the effective partnership of Eva Seah and Cassandra Chong (#8), closing the gap to just 43-47, Eva Seah was called for a fifth personal foul with 6:30 minutes left on the clock with an illegal block on Hannah Ng of RGS. Though Nanyang Girls’ managed to score one more point through Shu En thereafter, closing the gap to a mere two points at 45-47, the defensive absence of Eva was immediately felt and RGS were freer to unleash their attacking instincts.
RGS' Deanna Ng (#13) found the space for a fast break as RGS stormed ahead 51-45 before their gregarious captain Vienna Chua (#7) dutifully completed the 56-45 victory with a free throw and a stunning fast break to get her fingerprints and her school's name onto the B Division Championship trophy at long last.
Said RGS coach Ang Kuang Ngee: “I think we defended well to limit Nanyang Girls’ Tsang Wei Yi (#6) from scoring and Nicole Lau (#11) in the painted area. We were able to control the board with 40 defensive rebounds, hence limiting Nanyang Girls’ from second-chance points. 14 assists from 25 baskets made showed the team’s great teamwork and well-organised offence. Three players, Hannah Ng (15 points-16 rebounds), Hsiang Cheng Chia (13-15) and Joanne Ho (12-19), were double-double. All 12 players got to play, showing our depth on the bench.”
RGS finished the season with a 9-wins-2-losses record for the season, their two losses coming at the hands of Unity Secondary and Nanyang Girls’ School in the earlier rounds of the National Championship.
Said Vienna Chua, captain of the RGS team: “We were very focused from the start. Nanyang played very well also and we had quite a tough time during some of the periods.”
Additional pictures by reader Marvin Lowe
Nanyang Girls' High School
Cherylin Tan Ruiling (#4)
Cheryn Choo Yu Wei (#5)
Tsang Wei Yi (Captain) (#6)
Eva Seah Kai Chyi (#7)
Cassandra Chong (#8)
Tong Pui Jeng (#9)
Charis Wong En Hui (#10)
Nicole Lau Shu En (#11)
Joey Tan (#12)
Sharlene Huang Qiao Lin (#13)
Gennie Neo (#14)
Mok Shen Yang (#15)
Coach: Ms Loke Chi
Teacher-In-Charge: Mr Alex Teo/Ms Loke Chi
Raffles Girls' School
Hannah Ng Jia Hui (#4)
Vivien Cheok Xiao Xian (#5)
Hsiang Cheng Chia (#6)
Vienna Chua Qi (Captain, #7)
Vimilyn Wijedasa Jie Ying (#8)
Ng Jean Hui (#9)
Dew Isabel Low Ying Xian (#10)
Sophia Sim Feng En (#11)
Vannessa Lim Jia Mei (#12)
Deanna Ng Wan Jie (#13)
Joanne Ho Shu-En (#14)
Sharlene Quek Yi Ning (#15)
Coach: Mr Ang Kuang Ngee
Teacher-In-Charge: Ms Foo Ling Ling/Mr James Ong
Hannah Ng – 15 points
Hsiang Cheng Chia – 13 points
Joanne Ho – 12 points
Cassandra Chong – 11 points
Sharlene Huang – 11 points