Youth Basketball USO Mondeville win U18 crown again
In France the U18 youth basketball category (Cadets/Cadettes) has come to and end. From 2012-2013 this age group will be reserved for U17 players only.
USO Mondeville have written the last page of U18 French National Championship by picking up their 7th title since 2005 with a victory (63-41) against Illkirch-Graffenstaden.
The 36 best teams in France, based on the results of the previous season, take part in the Division A competition (elite division).
All the other teams play in the Division B competition.
The road to the Final 4 is long with each team playing 2O regular season games and 2 quarter-final matches.
The 36 teams in Division A were split into 6 groups of 6 teams. The top 4 teams from each group qualify for the second round of the competition while at the same time securing Division A status for next season (2012-2013).
The 24 teams were then divided into 4 group of 6 teams with the top 2 teams from each group qualifying for the quarter-finals.
It was Challes-les-Eaux that dominated the opening phase with a (14-2) opening phase and cruised to a (19-8) first-quarter lead.
The second quarter resembled a game of table tennis with long plays and quick ball movements at both ends of the court with neither team scoring a lot of points.
Challes-les-Eaux maintained the advangage at the interval (27-19) but their top player Marie-Eve Paget was on 3 fouls.
Mondeville turned on the turbo after the break with 8 quick points as well as 4 fouls. What makes Mondeville so good at youth basketball level in France is their ability to adapt to their opponents' game.
Marine Johannes from Mondeville had the most fun with 11 of her team's 19 points in the third quarter as Mondeville led (38-35) going into the final quarter.
The match became a little untidy with both sides picking a technical foul as well as unsportsmanlike fouls while the officials lost their way as the intensity picked up.
All the same Johannes (19 points) was on fire for the defending champions and set her side on the way to victory with back to back scores (50-42) with the game drawing to its conclusion.
Challes-les-Eaux' championship title dream ended with them falling short by 5 points (45-50).
In the second semi-final, Claudie Hucault, the coach from Illkirch-Graffenstaden, used all her experience from her 2008 Final 4 appearance with her former club (Strasbourg RC) to guide the SIG to victory against Aix-en-Provence (56-46).
Louise Dambach led the SIG in scoring with 16 points while Céline Pfister and Julie Paget had 10 points each.
For Damien Leroux, the coach from Aix-en-Provence, the match started badly with his players picking up 8 fouls in the first five minutes. His only luck was that the SIG only managed 5-of-11 from the free-throw line.
The SIG just edged the first quarter (16-14) and held on to the lead going into the break (28-26).
Aix-en-Provence started the second half of the match well with the first 6 points but were too passive in defending.
The SIG, the only team in the Final 4 outside of the LFB and without an "Espoir team" (U20), played simple direct youth basketball - basically they bashed their way through. The result was a 11-0 run that more or less settled the game (39-31) before the end of the third quarter.
The SIG pushed the advantage into double digits (43-31) early in the final quarter and then paced themselves to a comfortable victory (56-46) to qualify for the first time in the history of the club for the final.
The final match of the U18 season between Mondeville and Illkirch-Graffenstaden turned into a low key affair despite an explosive opening by Illkirch-Graffenstaden with an 11-3 lead within five minutes.
However this was as long as the suspense lasted because Mondeville took over with a 26-5 run over the next 10 minutes to take control of the game for good.
Leading (30-21) at the interval Mondeville killed the contest with a 17-4 run over the third and fourth quarter to build a 19-point cushion (52-33).
The two coaches played out the remaining minutes turning their benches, giving all the players a chance to experience a national final.
Awa Sissoko was the leading scorer with 14 points as Mondeville won the match (63-41) and take the U18 trophy home for ever.
In the match for third place Challes-les-Eaux edged out Aix-en-Provence (58-52) in a highly entertaining match.