Basketball: RI snap Hwa Chong's 9-year streak to claim A Div boys' title

Raffles Institution ended Hwa Chong Institution (HCI)'s nine-year winning streak in the Schools' National A Division Basketball boys' tournament on Tuesday, while HCI retained their girls' crown at the Jurong East Sports Hall.

RI hit the ground running from the first quarter onwards, building on their early eight-point lead to finish the match 78-61 winners.

"We came prepared and did what we needed to do," said RI captain Muhammad Zaki Ghazali, 18. "Our defence won us the match. We knew that if we focused on getting our defence right first, then everything else would fall into place."

Defence was not RI's only strength. Rengarajan Vignesh, their 17-year-old guard, was excellent in attack, sinking 18 points to add to the game-high 24 points by team-mate and Most Valuable Player, 17-year-old Justin Yeo.

"I was very nervous before the game," said Vignesh. "But we won and that is all that matters."

HCI was gracious in defeat, with their coach Michael Ong full of praise for the opponents. "RI were prepared, confident and performed at a very high level," he said.

"I am proud that we fought hard and it is already an achievement for us to be playing in the final."

HCI did not go home empty-handed, though, as their girls edged out Nanyang Junior College 60-54 for the A Division Girls' title.

Nanyang were leading 36-25 at half-time, but HCI made a stunning comeback after five straight three-pointers in the third quarter by Most Valuable Player Au Zi Yu.

"It was not just me. It's all teamwork," said the 18-year-old, who scored 30 points.

"My team-mates helped opened the court for me to get clear shots at the basket."

By the end of the third quarter, HCI had wiped out the deficit and took a 44-41 lead. They did not relinquish that advantage.

This was the first time Nanyang were in the finals and captain Ong Sin Kee believes a lack of communication proved to be her team's downfall.

"We are usually more quiet so the players found it hard to know what each other was thinking," said the 17-year-old. "I think we lost our composure at the end and that is one reason why we lost."

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