Good Shepherd Convent; Queens of the Basketball court

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Good Shepherd Convent – Kotahena claimed the girls` title at ThePapare Basketball Championship 2016 when they beat St. Joseph`s Girls` School in the final game during the extra time period. Here is how they defended the title from last year and crowned themselves for the third consecutive time.

Basketball was first introduced to the girls at Good Shepherd in the late 1970`s during the leadership of the then Principal Rev. Sr. Mary of St. Sabine Crooz. Late Mr. Sundralingam was the first mentor of this newly introduced sport.

Forty-six years, that is how long it has been since then and they have undoubtedly been the leading girls’ school for basketball in the nation during this time. By 1990 they had established a reputation as an unbeatable team. When Sri Lanka made history by beating the Indonesian National Team in the year 1993, many of the members of that team came from GSC. From that time onwards they have claimed themselves a name as one of the preeminent injectors of players to the national pool.

They have continued the dominance into the more recent years winning the championship title of the All Island tournament organized by Sri Lanka Basketball Federation in 2014 and going on to be crowned double champions in 2015, winning both the A division All Island tournament and the All Island schools’ games championship.

Strengthening its stronghold in the schools’ basketball arena, they won the title for the 2016 edition where the tournament was re-branded ThePapare Basketball Championship 2016, under the guidance of their present mentor Susil Udukumbura.

Led upfront by Shereen Preena, the Shepherdians started their campaign with the group stage match against Lyceum International School –Wattala, winning by a couple of points (40-42). From then on, they remained unbeaten until the final whistle on the final day of the tournament.

Jade De Mello speaking to ThePapare.com on behalf of the team expressed the feelings of the hat-trick win,

“It`s awesome to be the winners, all of us worked really hard to be the winners of the tournament and we hope to win every championship we play”.

Four championships. That is what Susil Udukumbura has accomplished as a coach together with this contingent.

Playing up to spectator’s expectation is quite the tough ask when you are the defending champions. We asked him how the mind set was prior to the tournament, whether the expectation gave them an added boost of confidence or not. The answer we got was that the team saw themselves as clear-cut favourites to take home the title yet again.

We hosted a brief Q & A session with him regarding this achievement.

Playing along the pre-defined plot of being favorites in the tournament, was there a change in the training strategies coming into the 2016 edition?

“Last year to this year, my training pattern has not changed. However, I did adopt different strategies during the game situations depending on the strengths and weakness of the opposing team, also everything went as planned and the school supported me throughout”.

Good Shepherd Convent defeated Holy Family Convent in the semi-final encounter by eight points (28-37). The atmosphere within the camp after qualifying for your third consecutive final would have been filled with emotion, pressure and nervousness. What was it like?

“We were very proud and happy as a team. I felt that my team and I got one step closer to achieving our final goal”.

You met St. Joseph’s Girls’ School Nugegoda in the final with confidence and the game went right down to the wire into over-time. The strategy of the coach at that one hundred and sixty second break is of utmost importance to the team. What was your strategy for that extra time period?

“My focus during the extra time period was to stop the main scorers of the opposing team and to tightly guard them. This gave us the opportunity to score and also provided some turnovers which finally helped us to be ahead of the opposing team”.

All the hard work he had put the team through ultimately paid off as the girls followed the strategy with pin-point accuracy. It all came down to the final minute, even in the extra-time period. It was Hansini Maleesha who dished out a shot from downtown which swished the nets and added three points to the score, ultimately turning out to be a game winning shot.

Thus, Good Shepherd Convent held the trophy in their hands proudly and today it rests gallantly in the trophy cabinet as it boasts of three consecutive wins and five titles under one mentor.