Cool Emi helps Nanyang win after three overtime periods
West Zone Girls' B Div basketball final settled only after three overtime periods
Emotions were running high in yesterday's Schools West Zone Girls' B Division basketball final, but Nanyang Girls' High School's Emi Chow cut a calm figure as her team edged out defending champions Jurong Secondary School 72-71 in a rematch of last year's final.
Over the season, the 15-year-old had struggled to keep her emotions in check, a problem that caused her to foul out in the preliminary rounds.
But the Nanyang forward showed no sign of that as she put up a composed and resilient performance to see her team through the game's three overtime periods at the Jurong East Sports Hall.
On her changed mentality, she said: "I had very high expectations of myself so when I couldn't meet them, I would get very sad and discouraged.
"But I felt like I had to do well for at least one game."
Jurong started well and led 12-9 after the first quarter.
But a resurgent Nanyang returned to end the second quarter at 30-22.
The defending champions climbed back steadily to turn the game around, ending the third quarter 36-35 ahead.
It was Jurong holding a 49-48 advantage as the match drew to a close, but Nanyang's captain Yang Shixuan sunk a free-throw, forcing the game into overtime, where the drama continued.
Jurong looked en route to victory as they led 56-51, but Nanyang had other ideas.
They clawed back and, with 25 seconds left, Emi, who had been substituted earlier in overtime due to leg cramps, was back to hand her team a lifeline as she made it 56-56 to force a second overtime.
What followed was more drama as Jurong equalised at 67-67 with 10 seconds to go, adding a third period of overtime. The teams continued their see-saw battle, with neither side able to pull away.
But, just as another overtime looked imminent, Shixuan secured the winning point with a free-throw, ending the gripping game at 72-71.
Elated by her winning shot, the 16-year-old said: "I did not want to let my teammates down. Everyone worked so hard and I couldn't miss and cause the zonals to end like this."
The Secondary 4 student praised her team's persistence, saying that was what helped them avenge last year's loss.
She said: "For this match, we just kept pressing on. There were three overtimes but everyone still had high energy.
"Our coaches, teacher-in-charge and juniors encouraged us and gave us the motivation to carry on."
Nanyang will be looking to improve on their dismal performance in last season's nationals, where they relinquished their champion's title after getting knocked out in the second round.
A delighted teacher-in-charge Lim Shi Min felt that the experience gained in this game will be crucial as the girls prepare for the nationals.
She said: "It's a turning point for them. They've put in so much work and they got rewarded for it.
"It will help them in the journey to their nationals in the coming weeks, which is going to be much tougher.
"Every game is probably going to be like that, so I hope this experience will help them go into the nationals with the right mindset."
Meanwhile, in the B Boys' final, defending champions Unity Secondary School swept aside Jurong Secondary School 85-62.
On the significance of the win, Unity skipper Ryan Hoa said: "It's very important because if we didn't win this, we might have worries about the nationals. Now that we've won it, we feel more confident in winning the championship."