By Stella Soon (16A01C) and Karen Cuison (16A01D)
Photos by Carla Mosqueda (16A03A) of Raffles Photographic Society
On the 19th of May, Raffles Basketball played an electrifying match, against long-time powerhouse Hwa Chong Institution. In spite of their intimidating streak of having won the Championship title for the past 9 years, Raffles Institution’s team did well in their pivotal match, wresting the A Division title for the first time in nine years.
From the start of the game, Raffles set up a stable ten-point lead. Most Valued Player Justin Yeo (#10) stood out for his clever moves which outwitted the Hwa Chong defenders throughout the game. While the whole team displayed excellent chemistry, another standout player of the game was Vignesh Rengarajan (#11), who helped to score many goals using his quick reflexes and nifty footwork.
Similarly, Hwa Chong’s team lineup featured many capable players, so both teams were matched evenly in terms of skill and physical ability. Despite this, Raffles pushed on to take advantage of Hwa Chong’s minor slips in ball handling in the midst of their intense match, and tapped on several free throws, to add significantly to the scoreline. At one point of the game, the difference in scores even went up to 20, in favour of Raffles.
The game reached its climax in the last quarter, with Raffles putting in their utmost to retain their lead from the third quarter, and Hwa Chong trying desperately to close the gap. It was a frantic last lap, with both teams’ coaches repeatedly calling for timeouts to give the players pep talks and motivate them in the last few minutes of the game. Unfortunately, the large scoreline gap between the teams proved too big for Hwa Chong to close, thus ending the game with a 17-point victory to Raffles. The team spirit of the Raffles basketballers was evident in a poignant moment at the conclusion of the game, when the other players spontaneously ran onto the court for one big, comforting group hug.
When asked about his thoughts on the team’s performance, the Boys’ Coach Mr. Liu Tong immediately replied that they had done “very well”. With 8 years of experience in training Raffles Basketball under his belt, he commented that this year’s team was particularly “capable” and “well-behaved”, and could rise to champions as long as they had the necessary team spirit. The importance of team spirit was echoed by Ejin Tan (#9) (16S03S), who mentioned that the most impressive part of their victory had been their teamwork, as they did their best to sync the ball and create open chances to score. Ejin shared that the team had put substantial effort into their game preparations; committing to physically-demanding trainings thrice a week, as well as having serious talks about their game strategy. It was undeniably not an easy journey for our players, but they managed to rise above the occasion to do the school proud despite the tough competition. Raffles Press would like to congratulate the Basketball Boys for their hard-won victory!
RI 78-61 HCI
List of Players:
Ernest Chng (#4)
Joel Ong (#5)
Jieren Teh (#6)
Chean Shao Jie (#7)
Phi Phat (#8)
Ejin Tan (#9)
Justin Yeo (#10)
Vignesh Rengarajan (#11)
John Zhang (#12)
Zaki Tan (#13)
Jovi Lim (#14)
Daran Huang (#15)
By Choo Shuen Ming (16A01E), and Olivia Tan (16A01E)
photos by Choo Shuen Ming (16A01E), and Raffles Photography Society
May 15 saw our Basketball Girls playing a decisive match against National Junior College in their (successful!) quest for third place. The team had fought hard on their way to the finals, facing formidable opponents, such as Hwa Chong Institution in their semifinals. During the intense match, #4 Bernice drew first blood with a clean shot that was met with cheers by the Rafflesians watching. Throughout the first quarter against Hwa Chong Institution, the adept team managed to stay ahead of their opponents with a score of 24-16, leading by an impressive 8-point difference.
Together with Captain #12 Woon Wei Jing keeping the team together with a spark of her own, the girls managed to press on with extraordinary three-pointers at the most unexpected moments of pressure. Both spectators and players could feel the intensity of the atmosphere during the third and fourth quarter, it wasn’t a surprise that both sides made a couple of slip-ups in the passes. We changed our line-up periodically to break the flow of Hwa Chong’s play, as #4 Bernice substituted #9 Charmaine, and #9 Charmaine later subbing #12 Wei Jing. Time-outs were called at the most burning moments with the coaches on each side rattling out strategy by strategy, raising their voices at times to get their points across with fierce sternness.
Despite making efforts to resist the mental and physical pressures on them, the girls experienced severe cramps nearing the buzzer, rendering them immobile with pain. It was also unfortunate that out of the eight players that played that day, at least four were fouled or injured. But in the end, it was a moving to watch how each and every one of them got up, stood strong, played on — against pain or pressure, they never once gave up.
There were moments when the Rafflesian crowd was slightly miffed, especially when the referee called travelling and pushing; despite protests and the incredulous looks on the team’s faces. With Hwa Chong narrowing the point gap in the game’s last few minutes, tensions climaxed, pressuring both sides’ coaches to call a timeout whenever the opponent had control. The court had an air of cutting distress during overtime, with each side searching desperately for an edge over their opponents. But throughout the process, several accidental fouls were made under pressure—resulting in a constant exchange of free throws. As expected, making two clean shots under such intimidating circumstances with all eyes on you (including the ticking time) is not an easy feat. However, the team’s #10 Lim Jie En who was subbed in at the crucial time managed to make both shots to the roaring cheers of the crowd, upping the team’s morale by a notch.
If anything at all, it was their teammates’ injuries that caused the most mental pain for each player. #4 Bernice Yeo crashed to the ground with a serious cramp that ran from her toes to her thighs, refusing to subside despite efforts to apply muscle sprays. However, Bernice was not the first to experience the cramps. Due to muscle fatigue from high intensity workout, several of Bernice’s teammates experienced similar pains—yet it was apparent that her cramps were of much higher severity. The girl’s coach, concerned and anxious, went onto the court to carry Bernice on her back to the bench, calling for timeout. It was indeed heart wrenching to see a fellow Rafflesian in such pain, but the sight of the coach’s care and concern was met with a warmly-moved applause from the spectators of both schools.
With a couple of key players down, it was indeed a rough time for the team, considering that they were already shorthanded due to injuries. Moreover, it was evident that Hwa Chong was not going to back down as they managed to break the draw on the scoreboard by making two consecutive two-point baskets, thus having a lead over Raffles. The atmosphere on the court was taut with concentration and desperation; and despite #4 Bernice’s re-entry into the court, the girls, under pressure and not in their best condition, were having trouble keeping up, thus ending the match with a close 62-58.
Captain Woon Wei Jing was gracious in agreeing to answer our questions, in spite of the team coming so close to winning. She admits that they “could have done better”, and that they should not have “let their guard down” during the first half. However, Wei Jing was clearly proud of her teammates, as she knew that they had “fought really hard” and she was very “impressed” with the team’s “good spirit”.
The Coach’s statements echoed that of the captain’s, agreeing that each and every one of the girls “played their best” and “persevered to the last minute” despite being clearly “shorthanded”. So that afternoon, the girls went home with their hearts heavy, but also determined, as they looked ahead to their third-fourth match against National Junior College on Friday.
The 3rd – 4th match began well, as we gained an early lead, with #4 Bernice scoring the opening points, and the girls managing to win rebounds and constantly pressure their opponents, causing NJ to miss many shots. But midway through the quarter, NJ subbed all 5 players, while our 5 remained. With their fresher players, NJ managed to turn the tide in their favour. Within the last two minutes of the quarter, NJ scored 9 consecutive points, and it didn’t help that their last two baskets were 3-pointers. Our morale took a definite blow, as we ended this quarter down 8 – 12. The pressure was on to catch up.
The second quarter saw a bit of a stalemate, and a subsequent breakthrough by our girls. Initially, it was frustrating to see that whenever we closed in, NJ would score and pull away again, keeping us under constant pressure. Our team held on though, with a notable play being where #4 Bernice made a spectacular move to keep the ball in play by jumping out of the court and knocking it back in before she touched the ground — a testament to the skill level of the players in this match. The pressure escalated further however, when NJ began to score unanswered, till by mid quarter, the score stood at 11 – 20. The tension was palpable. NJ was pulling away, and the girls had to turn the game around. The coach called a timeout, breaking NJ’s momentum, and giving the girls a breather and strategy refresher. It seemed to work, with #9 scoring right after, and again later on, this time with 2 defenders on her. It was clear that we’d regained our momentum. We ended the quarter well, closing the gap to 17 – 22 with some satisfying plays. One which stood out was when #6 Rachel failed to convert her free throws but kept going, intercepting a pass immediately after her throws, and successfully scoring a 2 pointer. So for this quarter, though we were still trailing behind, now we had the momentum, and we were chasing NJ down.
During the half–time break, one of the boys’ basketball players (who declined to be named) mentioned NJ’s strategy of continually substituting their players, while we were, as the coach mentioned in the semi-finals, “shorthanded”. It was thus an uphill battle, with the girls facing more well-rested opponents. As he said, “the only limiting factor is stamina.” But the girls pushed on, with the 3rd quarter seeing them close the gap and really chase down NJ. Captain #12 Wei Jing opened the quarter with a brilliant 3 pointer which closed the gap and ramped up the pressure on NJ, which mounted even further when #9 Charmaine equalized at 22 all, setting off a wave of cheers from our side. What followed was an almost point-for-point exchange for the rest of the quarter, and at one point the score stayed unchanged for three and a half minutesThe atmosphere was charged, with our spontaneous cheers of “Defeeeeeend defend!…” interspersed with shouts of “D-UP!” from the boys’ basketball team. Both teams had fought neck and neck this quarter, with every point being hard fought, and that set the mood as we entered the intense final quarter.
The final quarter started with NJ trying to pull away as they widened the point gap to a 26 – 34. In between the fight for an upperhand, NJ subbed everyone, again trying to wear us out. Perhaps because they were more energized than our players, resulting in a subsequent pair of free throws, bringing the score to 30 – 36. But they couldn’t take away our momentum, as we caught up 35 – 36, with a stunning shot from #4 Bernice from under all three of her defenders, converting one free throw, and #9 subsequently scoring both her free throws to thunderous cheers, an incredible feat considering how exhausted she would have been this late in the game. The comeback was real.
Perhaps all too real for NJ, as they called a timeout; maybe feeling the need to restrategize and break our flow. During the timeout, there was anticipation in the air. We were a mere point behind, and down to the last minutes. So when a decisive 2-pointer was made our side erupted in cheers, with the score of 37 – 36 putting us in the lead for the first time since the first quarter. The girls were on a roll, and at 1m16s to go, #12 Wei Jing scored a stunning 3 pointer from the right, straight down into the hoop, securing our lead in a truly spectacular fashion. With a minute to go, the girls were able to maintain their cool amidst the cheers, the palpable tension, and their own exhaustion, and it was incredible to watch. When the buzzer finally sounded, all of the supporters on our side simply exploded with mirth, shouting and cheering with wild, total abandon (this writer was hoarse by the end of it all, and had to desperately search for water before doing the interviews). The girls were too worn-out to celebrate, but one could see it on their faces — that mixed in with all the exhaustion, was also joy at having just played an incredible match.
After the match and their team talk, we again caught up with the captain Wei Jing about the game. As it turns out, they has been training thrice weekly for three hours at a time since the holidays, and she shared that in fact one of the most memorable parts of the season was the trainings, “that [they] were able to endure the trainings as a team” and “never gave up”. Their training clearly paid off, as they managed to overcome “all the cramps, all the injuries, foul trouble” and mental and physical pressure, as Wei Jing shared. For this match, they faced a couple of obstacles in particular, with one being their short-handedness, since as Wei Jing shared, they really had “few that can play such long minutes, up and down” for about an hour, and it was “mentally and physically tiring” for those on the court. Also, nearing the end of the season, many had sustained injuries, and couldn’t continue to come down for training, further exacerbating this issue. This game also saw them facing foul troubles, and Wei Jing provided an insight into this. Apparently, they were taking a “long time to adapt to a new style of defense”, from ‘zone defense’ (which is slower) to ‘full court man’ (which is faster paced). On the whole though, they pushed through and overcame these, and as Wei Jing said to sum up, though it was “not exactly what we expected earlier on, [she] would like to thank the team for putting in so much effort, and that they hope to continue this intensity for next year, and get even better results”. That afternoon, despite the constant pressure, the exhaustion, and the tension as the game wore on, the girls played even harder and eventually ‘bounced’ back. It was incredibly moving to watch, and Press would like to give our most heartfelt congratulations to them on their 3rd place! Through these two games, the girls’ basketball team truly showed us what it means to hang in there, and give your all. They showed us what it meant to be a team — that they didn’t simply support each other because they were a team; they are a team because they support each other.
By Kristal Ng (16S07C), Tasharani Palani (16S03P), Ian Cheng (16S03M)
Photos by Gabrielle Jeyaseelan (15S06A)
The rumble of thunder marked a sense of foreboding over the spectators in Yishun Sports Hall as the A Division Floorball boys took to the floor. Despite the heavy rain, the hall was filled with Rafflesian supporters as they cheered on the floorball boys.
After drawing with them 1-1 during the group stages,the Raffles Boys Floorball team were once again faced with their fierce competitors, Victoria Junior College. Buoyed by an undefeated streak all season, our floorball team looked set to claim their championship trophy once again.
Our boys definitely proved themselves worthy as defending champions as RI flew to an impressive start with three successive goals within the first period. The first was made by Jun Wei (#17) from mid court, and the mint green ball streaked past the the defenders into the waiting net. The subsequent goals by Zong Wei (#88), and Amirul (#45) were no less impressive, and it invoked roars from the watching crowd.
The second period was no less intense with great saves by both goalkeepers, their quick reflexes swooping to scoop up the ball and shut out any attack; Haziq’s (#29) skillful maneuvering was clear as he wrested the ball from VJC players’ grasp. VJC successfully took advantage of a slight falter to slip in a goal at the 10th minute. Nearing the end, our boys seemed to take a more defensive stance, executing practised long distance passing and dribbling.
Tensions were definitely high in the last period, with Amirul (#45) getting whalloped on the head three minutes into the game and having to sit out. However the injury was not serious and he resumed play once more. An alarming clash between Jun Wei (#17) and the opponent goalie also drew gasps from spectators on the stands, but both boys recovered quickly, patting each other on the backs in a show of sportsmanship.
RI regained control of the arena again as Zong Wei executed a “well practised” move of sweeping around the goal to flick in the ball, two and a half minutes before the end. VJC tried to make a last minute comeback in the last 17 seconds, with an impressive shot that flew in an arc over the players heads into the goal, but it was not enough as RI once again emerged as the A Division Floorball Boys’ Champions.
Later, goalie Jared Tan attributed their success to “the three early goals… we expected this game to be close later on and [when] it got closer, we were afraid [we] cannot score.” But ultimately, “We won thanks to a good team.”
To add on, some floorball members pointed out two players who outdid themselves during the game and generally overall during the season. In particular, we have Shaun Pua (#13) (15S06S), who despite picking up the sport only in J1, managed to improve tremendously within the short few months leading up to the season to “become really, an integral member to the team”, to quote a member who chose to remain unnamed. Apart from Shaun, Zong Wei (#88) was also highlighted for his tremendous efforts and performance during the game, scoring “two amazing wrap goals that really got the crowd going and got our team pumped up”, one to get the ball rolling, and the other that eventually sealed the game for RI. Silas (#22) had a few words of commendation for him: “As he and I rotate in the same positions, I know how hard it is to play as a forward and keep our composure at times. He really showed me today how to keep calm and patient and use his chances well, and refocused after every shift to do better in the next.”
To provide a brief behind-the-scenes glance into the floorball boys’ preparation for the season, they slogged for hours at physical training in thrice weekly sessions, that led up to as late as 8.45pm at times. Aside from that, their coach also ensured that they didn’t neglect their personal mental and emotional development as a member of a team, putting them through reflective thinking to analyze their performances during games and trainings. Even as training intensity and frequency lightened, players still ensured that they were in optimal physical condition via runs and exercises in their own time. Thus, it is with resounding agreement that the team members claim that they were “really proud of the team after seeing their hard work come into fruition”. Lee Minhao (16S03P) mentioned that even as “a non-team member of the CCA, I can’t help but feel honoured to be part of this CCA”.
In retrospect, to summarize one player’s sentiments over the game, we quote Silas Choe (16S03P) who said “All in all, we went out on court and got the job done, and that’s what matters. Honestly, the win was not very important to me at the start, but it just made the privilege of playing the match that much sweeter.”
RI – VJC : 4 -2
Tng Zong Wei (#88) – 2 goals
Foo Jun Wei (#17)
Muhammad Amirul Afiq (#45)
Josiah Lim (#3) – 2 goals
#1 Sean Jou (15S03L), #3 Julian Quak (15S03B), #7 Kenny Goh (15S07B), #9 Joshua Teo (15S06N), #10 Ethan Lim (15S06E), #11 Ng Juin Jie (15S03G), #14 Nicholas Ho (15S06S) #13 Shaun Pua (15S06S) #16 Daniel Ong (15S06G), #18 Brian Tan (15S06M), #34 Russell Yip (15A01E), #45 Amirul Afiq (15A03A), #60 Justin Tan (15S06O), #77 Clement Chew (15S06N), #92 Gerald Peh (15S07A), #8 Sean Toh (16S03R), #71 Jared Tan (16S03K), #88 Tng Zong Wei (16S03J), #22 Silas Choe (16S03P), #29 Haziq Rased (16A03A), #19 Kamal Hariz (16S07D), #17 Foo Jun Wei (16S03S)
Photos by Hee Xin Wei (15S03I) and Nadya Ang (16S03D)
On the 8th of May, the Raffles Softball A Division Boys team played their national school championship finals against ACS(I). Despite the stormy weather and showers before the game, the boys looked excited and ready to play. RI was undefeated thus far, and had beaten ACS(I) in the preliminary rounds by a landslide victory of 9-0. There was a strong showing of support from alumni and schoolmates alike as many looked forward to seeing RI battle against ACS(I) as the defending champions.
To give some context: softball is a complicated game but simply put, consists of 5 innings each divided into two halves. The first half sees one team bat and try to score runs, while the other team occupies the field and tries to record 3 outs. In the second half, the teams reverse their roles. The team that scores the most runs (points) wins the game.
The defensive innings were unremarkable early in the game – Edward Lee (15S03K) struck out the first 3 batters easily to hold ACS(I) to no runs. Now it was RI’s turn to score: though Ye Zi An (15S03D) managed to bring Jonathan Chua (16S06D) back home to score our first run, we were unable to capitalize on this momentum, and the first inning ended 1-0 to RI.
Urged on by RI’s batting, the batters from ACS(I) fought back valiantly. ACS(I) made the first hit of the game in the second inning, but Benjamin Loke (16S06F) made a diving stop to prevent the runner from advancing further. More hits ensued, but thankfully, tight fielding and solid defensive plays by RI ended the inning with no runs from ACS(I) as we breathed a collective sigh of relief. Offensively, we were aggressive; after being cornered at 2 strikes, Howe Lee (15S03U) hit a lead-off homerun, Hugo Tay (15A01A) pulled off a successful steal, and to cap it off Cher Wee Zheng’s (16S05A) hit to the outfield brought Hugo back home for yet another run.
The fielders managed to shut out ACS(I) again in the third inning, and were eager to increase the score difference – which they did. With Daryl Kow (16S06R) on base, Andrew Tan (15S07B) hit another homerun, bringing both Daryl and himself in for 2 runs, as supporters belted out loud strings of cheers. The situation repeated itself as Hugo hammered the ball past the ACS(I) short-stop – Howe (who was on base) used this opportunity to score yet another run.
ACS(I), desperate to fight back, managed to get a lead-off hit that went clear over the fielders. A series of pitching errors then lead to two more runners on base, and the bases were now loaded. The next hit drove the ball past the fielders, and one run from ACS(I) came in. Was ACS(I) mounting a comeback? The tides seemed to be shifting in their favour, but sharp fielding on our side prevented this. A quick and accurate throw from Zi An prevented a run from scoring while Benjamin easily fielded a ball for the third out. RI managed to hold ACS(I) to one run despite the precarious situation.
Then came the 4th inning. With two runners on base, Daryl whacked the ball past the short stop, and both ran home for 2 runs; another hard hit from Howe lead to Daryl and Andrew running home for our 9th and 10th runs. Now the winning run was on second base – if the score difference was larger than 10, the game would have ended there without a need to play the last inning. Raffles was poised to win the championships, with just one out, and 2 runners on base. Wee Zheng then stepped up to the plate and drove the ball past the fielders, bringing Howe home to end the game with a final score of 11-1 to Raffles.
RI consistently got on base through their impressive batting and running, while Edward’s indomitable pitching was key to RI’s defence as he struck out 7 batters in a mere 4 innings. Even though RI won the finals with an arguably better scoreline than the previous time they faced ACS(I) (9-0 to RI), the team still had high expectations for themselves. In the words of Coach Farhan, “The defence could be a bit better, I expected no runs from the other team.” One may think that winning means everything in sports, but RI has proven this to be wrong – the team put in long hours of training, of sweat and toil, not to prove that they are the best, but so that they could say they did their best, and the results will speak for themselves. This sentiment is echoed in the words of teacher mentor Ms Lynette Soh as well, who was impressed by the match and said, “They did very well, and I’m proud of them.”
Vice-captain Joshua Tam (15S06N) sums it up nicely: “Today was a good game, and I think we all played very well. There were some hiccups, but we gave it our all and it was the best game of our season.” And indeed, what a compelling win it was. We at Raffles Press wish the softball boys all the best for their future competitions following their spectacular season this year!
Scoreline by inning:
First inning: 1-0 to RI
Second inning: 3-0 to RI
Third inning: 6-0 to RI
Fourth inning: 11-1 to RI, RI wins by mercy rule (score difference larger than 10)
List of players:
Daryl Kow (16S06R), Russell Boon (16S03S), Cher Wee Zheng (16S05A), Mukund Bala (16S06O), Tien Chun (16S03F), Benjamin Loke (16S06F), Jang Yu Joon (16S06I), Jonathan Chua (16S06D), Joshua Chan (16S06O), Jorrell Low (16S06H), Ye Zi An (15S03D), Joshua Tam (15S06N), Andrew Tan (15S07B), Howe Lee (15S03U), Hugo Tay (15A01A), Edward Lee (15S03K)
Photos taken by Hee Xin Wei (15S03I), Nigel Gomes (15S06R) and Gabrielle Jeyaseelan (15S06A)
Amidst the cloudy weather that afternoon, the humid air was heavy with expectation as the hockey boys broke from their huddle and tensely walked to their positions, ready to play.
Last Thursday, 7th May, at Seng Kang Sports and Recreation Centre, this year’s A Division Hockey Finals saw our boys pitted against Anglo-Chinese Junior College. In a spectacular show of skill and control, our hockey boys emerged as champions once again, earning them their fourth gold in five years. While our RI hockey team is well-known for being a powerhouse, their streak was stopped in 2013, with Victoria Junior College claiming the Gold instead. Sheer hard work brought them back the gold in 2014, and it seems to be the case this year as well. In an interview with captain Darryl Ong Ming En (15S06R), he said he was “feeling a little wary and anxious at the beginning of the game, as ACJC definitely had a good team”, but they just had to keep a cool head and play on.
A whistle blew; there was a wild scramble for the ball; the game had started. Keeping up a ruthless attacking front, RI made several scoring attempts, including a penalty shot, but to no avail. However, RI eventually managed to break through ACJC’s defensive ranks, with Adam Aniq (16A03A) scoring our team’s first goal barely 10 minutes into the game. This was followed in quick succession by the next goal; Ryan Jay Naidu(16S03J) received a deflected ball to score successfully, bringing the score to 2-0 for the first half.
Throughout the first half, ACJC was forced onto; they made an incredible effort to land a shot during the first few minutes of the second half, and even received a penalty, but they missed their chances due to excellent defence and goalkeeping on RI’s part. Regaining control of the field afterwards, RI managed to get a penalty shot, which was handled well by Gurveer Singh (15S05A), with a lob over the goalkeeper’s head. Despite the score disadvantage, ACJC put up a brave front, constantly pushing the ball towards RI’s side, maintaining the score. Eventually, RI managed to break the ball out of ACJC’s lock, and Mohamed Haseef (15S06P) scored the final goal of the match.
The game was set – RI defended their title with relentless offensive and solid defence. However, ACJC had been no pushover either; despite several of their players sustaining injuries and having to be subbed out during the second half, they pushed on with unwavering spirit – Captain Darryl Ong mentioned that the ACJC team had “put in a lot of effort, and improved a lot overall”, and that it was “very commendable”.
With this, the A Division Hockey Boys have secured the Champion title for the second year running. We at Raffles Press would like to congratulate them, as well as wish good luck to others in their upcoming seasons!