Written by: Tan Zhe Ren
Edited by: Cheryl Tan
It was two weeks since their last preliminary match and the KE basketball girls were raring to go. Needing a victory against Raffles Hall to advance to the semi-finals, the girls had their eyes on the prize.
A delay due to miscommunication between the umpires and the convening team meant that the match started 40 minutes late, at 19:40 rather than at 19:00.
As a frustrated umpire called for the forward five from each team to step onto the court, he indicated that the game would be played on running time rather than have the clock stop when the ball went out of play, or when a foul was called. As previous matches were all played using the latter, Captain, Cheryl, requested that the format be adhered to for fairness. The umpire seemed disgruntled, but had to agree to Cheryl’s request.
KE started with a strong forward 5 featuring Adeline, Cheryl, Farah, Jinyi and Joelance.
Adeline outjumped the RH player to win the initial toss-up. 4 seconds later, the ball sailed through the RH hoop courtesy of an unmarked Farah. It was an impressive shot, but what made it even sweeter was that it was a 3 pointer. 3-0 in KE’s favour!
KE’s defence was tested after sloppy defending but thankfully, RH failed to find the net.
Two minutes in, a tactical substitution with Pearly replacing Jinyi caused confusion in the RH defence. A throw in from the baseline from Cheryl found an unmarked Farah who went 2 for 2.
As RH broke away after conceding, quick thinking from Pearly saw her intercept an attempted pass by RH. The ball fell to Farah who raced the length of the court to make it 7-0 for KE, and 3 for 3 for herself.
RH’s next attack was thwarted by Adeline who utilized her height perfectly to block a shot. Gathering the loose ball, Adeline played a lovely one-two with Joelance and deftly rolled the ball into the RH hoop, giving KE a commanding lead at 9-0.
Not willing to go down without a fight, RH burst into the KE box only to see a resolute Joelance putting her body in the line for the team by stretching to block a pass, and then diving to keep the ball in play. 4 passes and a good drive later, Farah made it 11-0 and 4 for 4.
As RH attacked yet again, KE’s defence held firm. Jinyi, who gathered the rebound, looked up and found Farah free on the wing. However, the RH players recovered in time to prevent Farah from sprinting down the wing. Finding no way through, she made a beautiful pass to Joelance who, after a fake, found Pearly. As Pearly’s shot cannoned off the board, Adeline timed her jump to perfection, and guided the rebound into the hoop. 13-0.
The team was having fun and Cheryl decided to get in on the action, and scoresheet, by driving in and executing her trademark spin-toss-esque finish.
The next attack saw Farah drive into the RH box to try to make it 5 for 5, but RH had enough and shoved her aside as she was about to make the shot. It was surprising then, as the umpire decided that no transgression was committed, and allowed play to go on. This led to a RH fast break and their first points of the game. 15-2. KE was clearly not happy with the decision!
As the quarter progressed, KE tried more daring passes. A cross court pass from Farah found Joelance who coolly made it 17-2. As expected from the captain of last year’s team!
Good pressing from Cheryl as RH attack saw her force the RH player into taking 5 steps without dribbling before taking a shot. The ball sailed in to make it 17-4. KE protested since it was a clear travel but the umpire waved the protests away.
Calls were clearly not going in favour of KE, but KE showed that no amount of biased umpiring could deter them as Adeline, after good movement, collected a pass and layed-up to end the quarter at 19-5.
RH’s style has traditionally been very physical and abrasive. This year was no different as the second quarter started with RH using their physicality to deter KE. A clash between two RH players, Joelance and Pearly left all four girls on the floor. The girl who charged into and allegedly attempted to bodyslam Pearly found out exactly how hard Pearly was as she came out of the challenge worse for the wear after sustaining a lip cut.
KE, shaken by the abrasive play, allowed a RH player to break free and run under the basket. With no-one within 5 metres of her, she jumped up to make a shot, and missed when it was easier to score.
KE took the opportunity to retrieve the loose ball and counter-attack. After their attempt found the rim, RH gathered the ball and launched their own counter-counter attack. RH passed to the player that missed just a minute ago, but unfortunately, this time, she did not miss. 19-7, and KE’s lead was further cut.
Joelance and Farah exchanged one-twos before Farah, finding herself in oodles of space attempted another 3 point shot. The ball clipped the rim and fell to Joelance, whose excellent vision saw her anticipate the rebound. Half a second later, the score was 21-7 in KE’s favour.
It must be noted, at this point, that the best defensive KE player thus far was Jinyi. She swiped away all the attempted passes from RH that came her way, and outmuscled the more physically imposing RH players for rebounds.
Not being able to find a way past the KE defence, RH took to taking pot shots from beyond the 3 point line. After 3 or 4 tries, a hopeful 3 point shot from RH found the net. 21-10.
It was KE’s turn to try 3 point shots as sharpshooter Jinyi made her attempt at the RH hoop. Unfortunately, the amount of strength used by Jinyi meant that the ball, although on target, circled its way out of the hoop. Not that the missed attempt mattered though, as Adeline showed tremendous vision and positioning to get in place to convert the rebound. 23-10.
It is often said that lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice. This only means that Thor and Mjolnir should be taking accuracy lessons from Cheryl as her second drive of the day saw her make the same law-of-physics-defying shot she made earlier, after taking on 3 RH players. Clearly it could not be attributable to luck, but skill.
The block of the match had to come from Adeline who anticipated a RH shot. A loud thud echoed throughout the court as the attempted shot found no way past Adeline. The rebound fell to Farah who once again dashed down the court to make it 27-10.
The next RH attack saw Cheryl block an attempt. Good vision by her was coupled with good execution of her pass which found Farah. A quick burst of pace from Cheryl provided Farah with an avenue to pass the ball. However, Cheryl still had loads of work to do as she was being closed down by two RH players. Undeterred, she drove right at them and for the third time of the day, executed her law-of-physics-defying shot to make it 29-10. The basketball community should seriously consider naming the shot after her.
The final 30 seconds saw both teams make unsuccessful attempts at scoring before RH popped up with another pot shot that made it 29-13 to end the quarter.
A popular Singaporean saying goes “One dollar 3 tries”, when someone fails to do a simple task within one or two tries. However, RH decided that 3 tries were not enough as they made 6 consecutive failed attempts from an easy position, after winning each rebound.
As the KE defence switched off, RH took full advantage of that. Sadly their player switched off even more as she threw an airball.
KE’s next points came courtesy of Adeline whose trickery saw her fake two players and slither into the box. As the ball left the palm of her hand, there was only one place it was going – through the hoop. 31-13
KE’s gameplan changed drastically after taking a huge 18 point lead. They were prepared to sit back, defend and counter. A quick Jinyi throw found Farah who, as she was about to toss the ball up, was barged fiercely in the back by a RH player. That would normally be a red card in football but unfortunately no such rule in basketball. Farah proceeded to convert 1 out of the 2 free throws awarded to bring the score to 32-13
As KE continuously frustrated raffles, their passes became increasingly desperate with many of them finding nothing but air.
As KE broke once again, captain Cheryl decided to test the referee’s biasness by travelling. Strangely enough, she was called back for a transgression that the umpire was happy to let go when committed by an RH player earlier.
The next KE attack saw Cheryl make another driving run and do “The Cheryl” – her trademark physics-defying shot. 34-13
Tactical substitutions were made and as RH’s most experienced player took to the court, she began shouting instructions for players to “watch their man”. Ironically, Cheryl found an unmarked Joelance who converted to make it 36-13.
However raffles responded immediately to make it 36-15
A great pass from deep within her own court from Cheryl found Adeline free right below the net. Adeline converted for 38-15. Unfortunately raffles responded immediately yet again and made it 38-17.
With 9 seconds remaining for the quarter, raffles made a substitution to no avail as despite their best attempt, they simply could not find the basket.
4th quarter begins
The final quarter began unlike the other 3, with KE happy to swing the ball around. RH on the other hand, grew increasingly desperate as whenever they won the ball, they would give it right back to KE via a poor pass.
One of those passes found Farah whose deft hands saw her flick a pass to Pearly. Pearly made no mistake and the score read 40-17.
A hopeful toss from RH found the net to make it 40-19.
The next play saw one of the passes of the match. As the ball found Pearly, she held onto the ball sideways for 2 seconds before executing a bounce pass under the hands of the stunned RH player. The pass found Joelance but the resultant shot failed to score. As RH broke away, Joelance’s mad dash back saw her last-ditch lunge prevent RH from passing the ball to a player in a scoring position.
There was a moment of contention as RH scored from a play that started from the throw in. Whilst the player clearly made the basket whilst within the 2 point zone, the umpire signalled 3 points. Captain Cheryl dashed over to the scorekeepers and after protesting, saw the decision overturned and the score rightly returned to 40-21 instead of 22.
As KE failed to capitalize on their next attack, they were once again hit by RH’s fast break to make it 40-23. A moment of passionate defending from Jinyi barely 15 seconds later saw the umpire call an intentional foul and evict all the players but the shooter from one half of the court to the other. Both free throws scored and the score now read 40-25.
KE surged ahead, dissatisfied at the difference only being 15 points. Cheryl, finding no way past the RH defence, decided to draw a foul. She converted the first shot, but her attempt to rebound the second shot to make a 3 point play saw the rebound fall into the hands of a RH player. Good try nonetheless. 41-25
The final basket was scored by KE as impressive passing found Farah who took a shot. Adeline, spotting the rebound, outjumped all the RH players to retrieve the ball. She faked a shot and drove in, leaving the two RH players eating her dust, and converted the simple lay-up. 43-25!
As KE ran down the clock, Raffles became increasingly physical and violent. However, it did not matter as KE held on for a comfortable victory. Into the semis they go!
Photo Credits: KE Vision