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CHURCHILL Boys turned on the show yesterday to beat rivals Prince Edward in the National Association of Secondary Schools Heads Basketball Under-20 Championships at Falcon College and Umzingwane High School. The Bulldogs defeated the defending champions 47-42 in a tightly contested match that could have gone either way. They had earlier on dismissed Milton High from Bulawayo 35-21 to reach the final while Prince Edward beat Cornway College from Mashonaland West 31-23 in the other semi-final match.

This will be Churchill’s fifth title since the inception of the tournament in 1999. They first won it for four consecutive years from 2004 to 2007. And yesterday they made a g comeback having missed the accolade for seven years.

In the Girls section, Harare’s Girls High retained their title when they dismissed Goromonzi of Mashonaland East 42-28 in the final. They accounted for Nkulumane High of Bulawayo 51-44 on their way to the final while Goromonzi thumped Roosevelt 27-7 in the other semi-final match.

Girls high first won the event in 2000 and this yesterday’s triumph was their 11th title.

Tournament director, Simon Lawson was impressed with the turnout and quality of play displayed by the young players.

“Competition was tough from the quarter-finals. Looking at Girls High they met Cornway winning with just one point. In the final they had to start very slowly but later peaked to win. For Girls High it’s their 11th title since the introduction of the championships.

“For Churchill it’s now their fifth title, they won it from 2004 to 2007 and have won it after seven years,” said Lawson.

Lawson said they are happy to see that other provinces are also improving and noted that the only thing separating the provinces is the type of exposure as schools like Girls High also compete at club level.

“Other provinces are doing well, you look at Nkulumane and Goromonzi they might fall short of various programmes Girls High play in the club basketball so you find that they have an edge over the other teams. These are the runners up of the National Basketball Championships so the level of exposure is different.

“Looking at Churchill and Prince Edward, these are players coming from the National Youth Games team that have been defending the title for the past 11 years,” Lawson said.

Lawson also said they have the Under-14 programme that was started three years ago and continuation of those programmes is the build-up of what they are witnessing in the Under-20 competition.

Taurai Kazembe of Churchill was voted the most valuable player in the boys section and Girls High’s Nyasha Katsatse walked away with a similar award.

The two day-tournament attracted 24 schools from the country’s 10 provinces with each section made up of 12 schools.

Source : The Herald