Sunday, April 14, 2024

Blackbirds finally win one

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CONSISTENT?shooting from Monique James and Mechelle Liburd piloted UWI Blackbirds to a nail-biting 40-39 win over Phoenix Gems when the Barbados Netball Association’s Division One league continued on Wednesday night at the Netball Stadium.
Goal shoot James and goal attack Liburd scored 20 goals each, with James getting 26 attempts, one more than Kittitian Liburd, as the Blackbirds finally tasted victory after losing their opening four matches. The victory bid was almost scuttled as UWI endured their customary second-half meltdown, falling from a ten-goal advantage to a razor-thin triumph.
Thankfully for them, James maintained her shooting form, and by making greater use of Liburd, the Blackbirds were able to survive. The speedy Damisha Croney played one of her worst games while Alicia Harding faded after a fantastic first half.
The Gems started with two Graydon Sealy products, Shannon Hackett and Shonica Wharton at goal shoot and goal attack respectively, and trailed 8-11 at the end of the first quarter in spite of some impressive play by goal keeper Shanice Rock, wing attack Makaela Rudder and wing defence Shanice Blades.
Wharton moved to goal attack and Chemyne Alleyne was brought into the goal shoot position in the second quarter which saw UWI moving to a 22-15 lead. Wharton ended with 17 of 21 while Alleyne scored 16 of 26 and Hackett scored six of her eight attempts.
However, chest problems experienced by the UWI’s centre, Tyna King, resulted in her being replaced by Jalisa Lovell in the third quarter. Gems’ British-trained Tonisha Rock-Yaw was also introduced at goal defence and Mia Simmons at wing attack but the Gems still stumbled to 31-21 at the end of that quarter.
However, Rock who will team up with the Blackbirds at the Inter-Campus Games in Jamaica next week, never flagged as she battled James and Liburd in the shooting circle while moving out to pick off many intended passes.
At the other end, goal keeper Jehlesal Brathwaite tried to hold UWI together as Croney and Harding made some shocking errors in mid court.
While Gems got the spectators into the game as they fought to within one goal with minutes left in the half, Rock’s aggression led to two successive penalties which the Blackbirds exploited in spite of another Gems’ surge to finally for their first Division One victory.
Tonight’s game between Pine Hill St Barnabas and Spooner’s Hill has been postponed. The attention will switch to tomorrow night’s battle between unbeaten teams St Barnabas and champions C.O.W. Rangers.
Rangers are 4-0, St Barnabas 3-0, Spooners Hill 2-2, Guardian Pride of Villa 1-3, Gems 1-3 and Blackbirds 1-4.

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