Good Shepherd Convent, Kotahena, achieved a championship double among girls’ schools in basketball after winning the 2015 Inter-School Under-19 A Division All Island Basketball Championship conducted by the Sri Lanka Schools Basketball Association recently.
The title followed the school’s win in the All-Island National Schools Games Basketball Championship in September.
In the A Division Basketball Championship, Shepherdians beat Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya 48-41 in a tense final at Kotahena. In the All-Island National Schools Tournament the Shepherdians edged out St Joseph’s Girls’ School, Nugegoda, 64-61.
Shepherdians achieved this feat after eight years as they last won the double in 2007. Good Shepherd Convent in the process also defended the All-Island National Schools Basketball Championship successfully as they were the champs in 2014.
In the schools Under-19 A Division All Island Basketball Championship, Nirma Sasanthi and Imeshi Fernando of Good Shepherd Convent, Kotahena, were adjudged the Most Valuable player and Best Defensive player respectively, whilst Senuri de Silva of Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya, was named the Best Offensive Player. In the All Island National Schools Tournament, Shereen Preena was Player of the Tournament.
The Shepherdians have become a champion outfit under the guidance of Susil Udukumbura, their coach since 2013, and the team comprises many senior players of which some have represented Sri Lanka at junior level in international tournaments.
Good Shepherd Convent Principal Rev. Sister Renuka Silva said: “The team was constantly practising with so much dedication and enthusiasm. They did as one team and this helped them. At the same time, all the players ensured they followed their studies too. With daily practices, sometimes spending the whole day at school, it is possible to miss out in studies and other activities of the school.
“However, they were disciplined and committed and we are really happy about their achievement. They got the fullest backing from the coach, teacher-in-charge and the rest of the staff. I was supporting the girls spiritually and motivating them whilst being with them. They need that, especially when they come across obstacles or when they face defeat”.
“It is good to see many young Shepherdians taking up sports. The commitment, team spirit and what they learn from sports will help them in their life later on.”
Susil Udukumbura who also is the Sri Lanka Youth coach since 2009 said the team had not won a championship for six years until he took over in 2013.
“I started developing the side from younger stages. We became Under-17 A Division Champions in 2014 and went on to win the Under-19 National Schools Basketball Championship in the same year. I had a young team but they have played together for some time now. With individual training whilst working together I managed to build this champion side,” Udukumbura said.
“This year’s squad has talented players, four players have gone on several youth tours representing Sri Lanka. I am confident some of these players will represent Sri Lanka in the near future. I am also thankful to Sister. Renuka and the staff as we got the fullest backing from the school.”
Team captain Claudia Perera was delighted with the win. “We’ve been playing together since under 13. We have a good understanding, team spirit and a positive attitude. We lost to HFC (Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya) in the group stages. We worked hard and managed to bounce back and beat them in the final,” she said.
“The first five, Imeshi, Sasanthi, Shereen, Chathuri and I have played together for a while and we shared the bulk of the responsibilities. At the same time, all others played their part and I’m really happy with our performance. I like to thank each and every one who supported us”’
Joes bounce back
In the All Island National Schools Games (Boys) Basketball Championship, St Joseph’s College, Colombo, defeated the Asian International School, 55-51, in a closely contested final played at Darley Rd.
Josephian Captain Kishal Cooray, who top-scored for the Joes (21 points) was adjudged the most valuable player of the tournament. Josephians also did extremely well in the All Island A Division Under-19 Basketball Championship too but they lost to Royal College in the semi-finals. AIS had the better of exchanges against Royal in the final.
At the National Schools Games (Western Province) Tournament, St Joseph’s beat S. Thomas’, Mount Lavinia, 49-31, Royal College Colombo 59-45 and lost to De La Salle College Mutwal 62-63. After qualifying for the All Island National Schools Tournament, the Joes went on to beat St Michael’s College, Batticaloa, 56-40 in the quarter-finals and De La Salle College, Mutwal, 60-42 in the semi-finals. The Joes were hampered with injuries to Shivanga de Silva and Shenal Samuel during the latter part of the tournament. However they bounced back with great teamwork to end the season as champs by beating the equally strong AIS team.
Deon Joshua captained the St. Joseph’s College during the All Island Under-19 Tournament while Kisal Cooray captained the team in National Schools Tournament. The team comprised of Kisal Cooray, Deon Joshua, Nathosh Wijendran (vice-Captain), Kishan Ravichandran, Bhanuka Gamage, Shenal Smuel, Shivanga de Silva, Panduka Gajamange, Shamin Fernando, Eshitha Suradin, Rehan Keyzer and Arjun David. The Josephians are being coached by Roshan Randima, assisted by Shane Daniel with Asiri Perera as physical trainer and T. A. D. Sampath as the physiotherapist. Asiri Caldera is their Master in charge and Fr. Milan Bernard is their Prefect of Games. They had the fullest blessings from their rector Rev. Fr. Travis Gabriel throughout the season.
Josephians previously won the National Schools Games Basketball Tournament in 2010 and 2011. Year 2011 was an exceptional year as the boys from Darley Road managed to win all Under 19 Basketball tournaments, winning 04 trophies including All Island A Division Tournament and the National Schools Games. This year St. Joseph’s also won the Under 17 A Division All Island (Boys) Basketball tournament under the captaincy of Shenal Samuel.