PMB Girls’ High slam dunk top spot in basketball tournament

2013-08-13 00:00

THE 22nd High School Girls’ Invitational Basketball Tournament was co-hosted by Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School (GHS) and St John’s over the weekend, with 24 teams participating.

The final play-off matches in the B section were at St John’s on Sunday, with GHS hosting the A section finals. GHS won gold once again, with Lereko and Ridge Park College taking the silver and bronze medals in the A section.

Pool A in the A section saw three teams looking set to challenge for top spot — St John’s, Lereko (Free State) and Ridge Park College (Durban). Matches played between these three schools produced thrilling finishes with a one- or two-point difference each time. Lereko were safely through to the semi-finals, with St John’s set to fill the second spot.

However, in the final match of Saturday afternoon, playing without one of their key players, St John’s suffered a surprise loss to Peterhouse (Zimbabwe), which relegated them to third place in the pool.

The consequence was that Ridge Park went through to the semi-finals. The last spots went to Durban Girls’ High (DGH) and Epworth. In the other half of the A section, the matches were not as tight. The GHS first team defeated Pretoria High School for Girls (PHSG) 40-16 and also accounted for Alexandra High, Danville (Durban) and newcomers Prestige College (Hammanskraal) and Watershed (Zimbabwe).

The B section featured both first and second teams from various schools. The Wykeham Collegiate (TWC) firsts opened their B section title defence with a narrow win over GHS II. TWC then overcame challenges from St Mary’s (Waverley), plus PHSG II and Danville II, as well as Eshowe I. The St Anne’s firsts also had a clean sweep against Lereko II, Peterhouse II, as well as the Treverton, Linpark and The Glen (Pretoria) first teams. St Anne’s beat TWC 30-20 to win the B-section, while GHS II beat Linpark I 35-29 to take third spot.

The A section play-offs produced some close contests. Ridge Park put PMB Girls’ High under pressure but GHS were able to pull off a 34-30 win. In the other semi-final, PHSG kept pace with Lereko until half-time before Lereko won 42-32. St John’s accounted for Alex 33-22, Peterhouse beat Prestige College 49-23, Watershed had a close 30-28 win over DGH and Epworth beat Danville 30-13. The medal matches did not reach the heights of the semis. The most improved team of the tournament, Ridge Park, beat PHSG to win the bronze.

In the tournament final, the level of ability in every one of the Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School’s first team players was key. Within a few minutes GHS had taken a 10-0 lead. Lereko’s game-plan revolved around two players, while GHS could substitute all five players on court.

Lereko were probably the top three-point shooters up until the final, but did not have enough opportunities to take good outside shots as GHS kept the pressure on the shooters throughout.

Lereko’s top-scorer was neutralised by GHS’s Nompilo Thenjwayo. GHS point guards Nolwazi Hlabangane and Amahle Dlamini shared the role upfront and were able to absorb pressure and keep the offence moving. Top scorer and rebounder in the final, Cebile Zikalala, led the attack with good interceptions while left-hander Khwezi Myeni alternated competent outside shooting with driving to the basket.

With Lereko’s scoring opportunities limited, GHS ran out 48-23 winners to bring to an end a great weekend of schoolgirls’ basketball.

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