Shreya shoots 26 as Maharashtra pip Punjab 77-76 to establish summit clash with Kerala

NAGPUR: Leading from the front pattern of Maharashtra Shreya Dandekar produced another heroic effort like Anshika Kanojia & Suzzane Pinto he recorded a double double to take Maharashtra to the basketball end of Khelo India Youth Games currently in progress in Guwahati on Sunday.

In the U-21 semifinal of the basketball championship, Maharashtra girls got success in getting the better of the lanky girls from Punjab by a wafer thin margin of a point (77-76). With this thrilling win, Maharashtra set the summit clash with Kerala.

For their exciting victory in the semifinal, Maharashtra rode on the all-round performance of their skipper Shreya Dandekar. The 19-year-old Nagpur forward fired a game-high 26 points before stealing the ball thrice from Punjab point guards. Shreya was also involved in giving six effective assists.

While Shreya delivered an efficient offensive display - scoring all her baskets from the paint - she was well supported by the long range shooting skills of Pune's Durga Dharmadhikari & all-round show by Mumbai's Anshika Kanojia .

While Durga converted two of her 10 attempts from behind the arc, Anshika gave a 30 percent conversion to lift the team up when the chips were down. In addition to Durga's contribution of 19 points, Anshika was at her aggressive best to produce a double double scoring 16 points & pulling as many as 13 rebounds before clearing the ball six times for crucial assists.

Mumbai guard Suzzane Pinto too chipped in with 11 points before collecting a handful of 19 rebounds including seven from her rivals' camp. With five assists Nagpur forward Abha Lad & Rutuja Pawar from Satara too played key role in helping Maharashtra end their long wait of qualifying for the final at the national level.

For Punjab, Rajdeep & Harsimran Kaur scored identical 21 points as Priyanka Behal (19) became the other notable scorer.

It was a game in which fortunes fluctuated after each quarter of a pass. An attack start gave Maharashtra a practical advantage, Punjab recovered in the second period. After the change of extremes, Maharashtra extended his advantage even further to find that Punjab fights bravely before falling short by one point. The quarterly progress for Maharashtra is read 21-14, 17-21, 20-15, 19-26.

The clash of the Maharashtra summit with Kerala will be played on Monday afternoon at 2.30 pm.

RESULT (Semifinal U-21): Maharashtra (Shreya Dandekar 26, Durga Dharmadhikari 19, Anshika Kanojia 16, Suzanne Pinto 11) bt Punjab (Rajdeep Kaur 21, Harsimran Kaur 21, Priyanka Behal 19) 77-76 (21-14, 17-21, 20-15, 19 -26).