Story by Zachary Foo/Red Sports. Photos by Clara Lau/Red Sports.
Jurong East Sports Hall, Thursday, May 23, 2019 — Nanyang Junior College (NYJC) came back in the final quarter to beat National Junior College (NJC) 45–43 in the third and fourth placing match at the National A Division Girls Basketball Championship. This completes a sweep of third place finishes for their school as the NYJC boys also finished in third place in their division.
NYJC captain, Nicole Tong (#13) had this to say about the win: “We worked hard. We hustled for every ball even though we were down. We managed to push through and I’m very proud of them as it was an improvement from last year.”
Rachel Tan (NJC #2) led all scorers with 16 points in a losing effort, while Agnes Lee (NJC #5) and Nicole Lee (NJC #7) contributed 10 points each. Claudia Tan (NYJC #14) led her team with 11 points, while Yeo Ding Xin (NYJC #11) chipped in with 10.
NJC started the game off with strong defense, creating turnovers by getting their hands into the passing lane. They also hustled on the boards and grabbed multiple offensive rebounds. This allowed them to take the initiative and build up a lead from scoring off fast breaks. NYJC did have some opportunities with open shots early on, but their shots were not falling and consistently rimmed out.
The second quarter saw NYJC trim the lead, but NJC were still able to find success by driving hard into the lane and drawing fouls. NYJC’s woes continued into the second quarter as their shots continued to rim out early on.
However, Jermaine Lim (NYJC #10) ended the cold streak with a jumper in the lane. Both Yeo Ding Xin (NYJC #11) and Jessika Cahyadi (NYJC #9) were able to aid NYJC in helping to close the gap. NYJC went into the half down only by one point.
The third quarter was a tight affair, as both teams clamped down on defense. Ding Xin (NYJC #11) gave her team their first lead of the game at 22–21 with a jumper. Nicole Lee (NJC #7) responded back with an uncontested three-pointer.
NYJC then fell behind a little as they experienced a three-minute scoring drought. However, they gained some momentum towards the end of the quarter, with Jermaine Lim’s (NYJC #10) foul-in putting them up one. Not to be outdone, Shannon Or (NJC #33) hit a jumper with time running down to give her team a one-point lead heading into the final quarter.
NYJC carried their momentum in the final quarter and also took advantage of NJC’s sloppiness. NJC looked shaky as they had multiple turnovers to start the quarter, allowing NYJC to start the quarter on a 9–2 run. Nicole (NJC #7) was able to end the five-minute scoring drought by hitting a three-pointer.
NYJC looked to be in trouble when Vernice (NYJC #1) fouled out halfway through the quarter. Agnes Lee (NJC #5) helped her team’s bid in coming back into the match with two consecutive three-pointers. In a nail-biting final minute, the lead swung between both teams multiple times. Agnes Lee (NJC #5) hit a three-pointer to put her team up one. Yeo Ding Xin (NYJC #11) then hit a three-pointer to put her team up two.
Rachel Tan (NJC #2) then went to the line and sunk one free throw. With 1.6 seconds left in the game, Amabelle (NYJC #2) held her nerve to sink one free throw and put NYJC up 45–43. On the ensuing inbounds play, NJC missed the potential game-winning shot, allowing NYJC to seal the game.
NJC coach, Mr Shamdas, reflected on the game: “It was great effort by them today, but they do not have enough experience, so we have to go back and work on a lot of fundamentals. We lost to the better team today and it was down to the fundamentals.
“Even when we took the lead, we were not able to execute in the crucial moments. I hope the pain of losing this year will strengthen them in the year to come. Given the situation, we met expectations. I think over time our expectations have got better and with a better infrastructure we can improve more.”
Nicole Lee (NJC #7) had this to say about the game: “It feels bad to have such a lead at the start and to lose it at the end. This is my last game for NJ, but ultimately I feel as much as we want to win, at the end of the game the result didn’t matter to me. Because when the clock wound down to zero, at the very least, I knew that I enjoyed my last game with my teammates as my coaches ask me to always enjoy the game.
“Back then, I didn’t understand it, it was always about full-on hustling and going all out for the win. But I felt that today, I really enjoyed every moment of the game, each hustle or dive for the ball and the adrenaline coursing through the body. I think the journey was more important than the results and there was closure.
“Right from the start, we don’t even have twelve players in the team, we could only dress eight to nine players. This meant that there was no conventional rotation and everyone played hard. We’ve come far together as a team and I’m very proud of them in the end. I feel like the J1s have a good chance next season as we have a very aggressive mentality and teams fear playing us. There are a few scorers we can rely upon next season, but the players who did not play well this season will have a lot to work on to get back on the same page.
“I’m very thankful for being able to be in this CCA and family for the past six years and all the memories that I will cherish for life. Even though the coach is scolding us and encouraging us toward the end, we knew that he still had faith in us to the very end.”
NYJC captain, Nicole Tong added on: “We worked hard and it was a lot of pressure on us. But we managed to pull through and managed to play harder each game to reach our goal, which was gaining a place in the top four.”
Scoring by Quarter
NYJC v NJC
1st Quarter: 5–12
2nd Quarter: 15–9 (20–21)
3rd Quarter: 8–8 (28–29)
4th Quarter: 17–14 (45–43)
Claudia Tan (#14) – 11 points
Yeo Ding Xin (#11) – 10 points
Rachel Tan (#2) – 16 points
Agnes Lee (#5) – 10 points
Nicole Lee (#7) – 10 points
Vernice (#1), Amabelle (#2), Regine (#3), Megan (#4), Lin Jie (#6), Elke Goh (#7), Jessika Cahyadi (#9), Jermaine Lim (#10), Yeo Ding Xin (#11), Shannon Chong (#12), Nicole Tong (#13), Claudia Tan (#14)
Amanda Han (#1), Rachel Tan (#2), Ng Mu Rong (#3), Agnes Lee (#5), Nicole Lee (#7), Dong Ke Wen (#8), Joanna Wei (#9), Kimi Neo (#15), Aruna D/O Vadivelu (#21), Shannon Or (#33)
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