Story by Zachary Foo/Red Sports. Photos by Iman Hashim and Clara Lau/Red Sports.
Jurong East Sports Hall, Thursday, May 23, 2019 — Raffles Institution (RI) overcame all odds to topple Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) 52–33 to clinch the championship in the final game of the National A Division Girls Basketball Championship. RI came close to being eliminated a few times this season, inclusive of a tight overtime win over Nanyang Junior College in the semis, but managed to survive them all to reclaim the title they last won two years ago.
RI captain, Tan Kang Yi (RI #12), had this to say about the win: “It feels very surreal as no one expected us to perform this well. I still am not over the initial shock. I think we just went into the game thinking that no one expected much of us, so there was not really any pressure on us. It was a way to help us relax and train hard to give our best.”
Kang Yi (RI #12) poured in 25 points in an MVP-winning performance to carry her team to the win, while Zhu Yezi (RI #7) poured in 10 points in what was a dominant performance by the RI frontcourt. Silin (HCI #14) contributed 11 points, while Qun Fang (HCI #42) contributed nine points.
RI executed their game plan well to start off the game, swinging the ball around continuously in a bid to cause the HCI defense to sag and finding open players to score. This contributed to an early 6–0 run in their favour. HCI also had opportunities on their end, but they were unable to drain their open jumpers. This led to a four-minute scoring drought to open the quarter, which Silin (HCI #14) ended after scoring on the fast break.
RI’s frontcourt was the main reason for their lead in the quarter. Zhu Yezi (RI #7) did well down low on the blocks to get the rebounds with her outstretched arms, allowing her to score on putbacks. Kang Yi (RI #12) also was strong in the half court, spinning around her marker Qun Fang (HCI #42) to score an easy lay-up.
The second quarter saw more dominance by RI which saw their lead stretch to double digits. RI conscientiously worked the ball down close to the rim for easy buckets via the pick and roll game. HCI were forced to settle for long range shots on offense, as RI threw out a zone defense that HCI struggled to penetrate. The strategy worked as RI kept HCI quiet for the final three minutes of the quarter.
The second half saw more of the same, with RI working to find mismatches for Kang Yi (RI #12) in the post and allowing her to score on a smaller defender. Two baskets by Yezi (RI #7) and one by Kang Yi (RI #12) allowed them to open the third quarter on a 6–0 run.
RI were also finding success on defense with Yezi (RI #7), Kang Yi (RI #12) and Katrina Lee (RI #15) making use of their long arms to disrupt HCI passes. HCI finally managed to end their drought when Qun Fang (HCI #42) sunk a lay up on the fast break. The end of the third saw a barren spell from both teams, as they struggled to find their mark.
With the championship within their grasps, RI pulled out all the stops to seal the game in the final quarter. Kang Yi (RI #12) took full advantage of defender mismatches to score in the last period, tallying 10 of her team’s 18 points in the period.
HCI had no answer for her, as RI strategically switched Kang Yi (RI #12) onto shorter HCI defenders to give her an easy opportunity to score. Qun Fang (HCI #42) tried to will her team back into the game, even to the point of stepping out and nailing a three-pointer. However, RI eventually proved too much and took home the title with a comfortable 52–33 win.
On her team’s season as a whole, Kang Yi (RI #12) added: “The lowest point for us was when we lost to HCI in the quarters, as they beat us really badly then. I am very proud of my team as from that point onwards, we did not give up because we lost. Instead, we trained very hard and I am very thankful for that. I feel that we won together as a team. I just want to thank my coaches, teachers, teammates and even my seniors for coming to support us and never giving up on us.”
HCI captain, Li Qi (HCI #9), said: “I feel like we did not play very well today and there is a lot of room for improvement. We definitely have to improve next season. It was a very tough journey as there were a few instances in the season where we were almost eliminated and we wanted to get into the top four. We fought very hard to get to finals and it was very heartwarming to know we all fought hard today.”
Scoring by Quarter
HCI v RI
1st Quarter: 9–15
2nd Quarter: 5–10 (14–25)
3rd Quarter: 7–9 (21–34)
4th Quarter: 12–18 (33–52)
Silin (#14) – 11 points
Qun Fang (#42) – 9 points
Tan Kang Yi (#12) – 25 points
Zhu Yezi (#7) – 10 points
Esther (#0), Erinn (#4), Shiyun (#5), Ivon (#8), Li Qi (#9), See Neng (#10), Ning Xuan (#11), Wing Xuan (#13), Silin (#14), Jade (#18), Jia Hui (#41), Qun Fang (#42)
Aw Han Xi (#3), Bridget Lum (#4), Zhu Yezi (#7), Aisling Lum (#9), Mabel Ong (#10), Aw Ziyann (#11), Tan Kang Yi (#12), Freda Wee (#13), Katrina Lee (#15), Kelly Wang (#16), Angela Wang (#17), Teo Shuen (#19)
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