USA Women Claim Second Straight Youth Olympic Games Gold
With its defense leading the way in a dominating 18-4 championship win over France (5-2), the 2018 U.S. Youth Olympic Games Women’s Basketball Team (7-0) captured the 2018 Youth Olympic Games gold medal on Wednesday in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The USA team of Aliyah Boston (Worcester Academy/St. Thomas, USVI), Samantha Brunelle (William Monroe H.S./Ruckersville, Va.), Paige Bueckers (Hopkins H.S./Eden Prairie, Minn.) and Hailey Van Lith (Cashmere High School/Wenatchee, Wash.) now have won two gold medals together in the summer of 2018, as all four also helped the USA to a 7-0 record and gold medal at the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup this past July in Belarus.
“It is so exciting, especially to win two times in the same year and with the same girls. It’s just so exciting,” Boston said. “We just needed to make sure that we communicated, because France is a very good team offensively, and they run very good plays. So, we just needed to communicate and know where we had to be.”
The gold medal was a second-straight such finish for the USA women, who now own a 26-1 overall record in Youth Olympic Games action, including a gold medal in 2014 and a bronze medal in 2010.
In the finals against France, the score was 2-2 with two minutes gone from the 10-minute game clock, but from there it was all USA. While the USA raced to eight unanswered points and led 10-2 at 4:49, it allowed France only two more points for the entire game. France last scored with 3:37 on the clock to make it 11-4, and the USA put up seven more points to earn the 18-4 win. Van Lith dribbled out the USA’s final possession.
“I think our intensity really just helped our offense,” Boston explained. “We ran our plays and good things came out of it.”
Boston tallied six points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots in the gold medal game; Bueckers added six points, three blocks, two steals and two assists; Van Lith finished with five points and two rebounds; and Brunelle recorded one point, two rebounds and two steals.
“It is amazing,” Bueckers said. “I’m so happy right now. We’ve been together for the past six months, working, just working and playing against older men, scrimmaging, just getting better, and our chemistry is unreal. I think you saw that in the championship game, and it’s really an unexplainable feeling.”
In its semifinal contest against China (4-3), which the USA won 21-9 with 35.1 seconds remaining on the clock, the USA again was in control throughout. Jumping ahead 5-1, the USA did not give up a score from the field by China for the first 3:02 as its first point was from the free throw line. A 5-0 run pushed the USA ahead 12-4, and the USA maintained at least a seven-point margin for the remainder of the contest.
Bueckers, who sank the game-winning 21stpoint with a jump shot, finished with 10 points; Boston added five points, 10 rebounds and three assists; Brunelle tallied three points, six rebounds, two steals and two assists; and Van Lith contributed three points and two rebounds.
“It’s all about being aggressive, attacking them first before they could attack us,” Bueckers said of her performances on Wednesday. “I didn’t play well yesterday in the quarterfinal, so I came out with an attack mentality today.”
Australia (5-2) defeated China 16-13 to win the women’s bronze medal.
On the men’s side, host Argentina (6-1) topped Belgium (6-1) 20-15 to win the bronze medal, and Slovenia (6-1) defeated Ukraine (5-2) to finish with the bronze medal.
A multi-sport event, the Summer Youth Olympic Games are being held Oct. 6-18 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The basketball competition, which began with 20 men’s teams and 20 women’s team, was played under FIBA 3x3 rules and was organized by the IOC and FIBA.