USA Women Reach Youth Olympic Games Semifinals
The 2018 U.S. Youth Olympic Games Women’s Basketball Team (5-0) remained undefeated with an 18-14 quarterfinal win over Netherlands (3-2) in the Youth Olympic Games on Tuesday afternoon in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The win propelled the USA into the semifinals, where it will take on China (4-1) at 10:25 a.m. EDT on Oct. 17. The first semifinal at 10 a.m. EDT on Oct. 17 will feature France (4-1) and Australia (4-1), and both games will be available to watch live online at: YouTube.com/Olympics or OlympicChannel.com.
The semifinal winners will compete in the gold medal game at 1 p.m. EDT on Oct. 17, and the semifinal losers will battle for the bronze medal at 12 p.m. EDT on Oct. 17.
“I thought the game went well,” said Hailey Van Lith (Cashmere High School/Wenatchee, Wash.), who led the USA with seven points against Netherlands. “We matched their physical intensity, and that’s what allowed us to power through and get the win.
“I just knew that their guards were going to be really tight on me and Pagie (Bueckers) and try to be physical and pressure us,” Van Lith added. “So, I just attacked and tried to create a shot for my teammates or myself.”
The USA jumped ahead 3-0 to start, but Netherlands tied the score at 5-5 with 6:50 on the clock. Thanks to at least one score from each of the four USA team members, however, the Americans launched a 7-1 run and led 12-6 at 3:39.
Netherlands fought back to within three points, 16-13, with just 38 second left in the game, but the USA did not allow it to come any closer. Aliyah Boston (Worcester Academy/St. Thomas, USVI), who added five points and grabbed nine rebounds in the win, scored the game’s final point to make it 18-14 at the end of play.
“We definitely are still improving with each game, especially on the defensive end with communication and rotations, and just even understanding 3x3 in itself, because we are not used to playing this game all the time,” Van Lith explained. “We are growing every day in practice and every day we step on the court.”
Samantha Brunelle (William Monroe H.S./Ruckersville, Va.) finished with three points, two assists and two steals, and Paige Bueckers (Hopkins H.S./Eden Prairie, Minn.) added three points, two steals and two blocked shots in the victory.
“China is going to be a very touch matchup for us,” Van Lith said. “We are definitely going to have to show up and play our best basketball yet to match them. We are going to learn what they do best and try to take it away.”
A multi-sport event, the Summer Youth Olympic Games are being held Oct. 6-18 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the basketball competition, which features 20 men’s teams and 20 women’s team is being played under FIBA 3x3 rules. The basketball competition at the Youth Olympic Games is organized by the IOC and FIBA.
The USA women have competed in both prior editions of the Summer Youth Olympic Games and currently own a 24-1 record overall, including capturing a gold medal in 2014 and a bronze medal in 2010.