Sunday, March 3, 2024

Bajan netballers start with win

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Barbados defeated St Lucia 51-33 in their opening match of the inaugural Senior International Festival of Netball yesterday evening at the Antrim Forum, Northern Ireland.
Several different combinations were used as Barbados took the early 18-7 first quarter lead and led the subsequent quarters 30-17 and 43-27.
Earlier, hosts Northern Ireland defeated Botswana 54-23.
The starting combination of Laurel Browne (goal shoot), Nikita Piggott (goal attack), Samantha Browne (wing attack), Latonia Blackman (centre), Kizzy Marville (wing defence), goal defence Shonette Bruce and goal keeper Rhe-ann Niles took a few minutes to settle.
Barbados stole the first centre pass from St Lucia and took the 1-0 lead, only to surrender a goal on their pass.
Delia Samuel and Judy Mathurin were double marking Laurel Browne, forcing Piggott to go for most of the balls, and she made them pay. Piggott’s shot, which has changed since her stint in England, wasn’t missing anything.
The St Lucian defenders had to respect her talent and abandoned the double team. This opened up space for Laurel Browne, whose deadly accuracy soon had Barbados leading up 6-2.
Barbados went on a series of runs and took the nine-goal lead at the end of the first quarter.
One of the key elements to the Barbados attack was the presence of captain Blackman at centre. She directed her troops like a general, while Piggott, who now seems to fully understand the role of goal attack, worked in tandem with her captain to nullify the St Lucian attack.
St Lucia kept turning over the ball, making the transition back to international netball much smoother for Barbados, who like them, have not played many matches recently.
Blackman, Marville and Bruce swarmed the centre and defensive third, shutting down the passing lanes and picking off balls before Niles was pressed into action. St Lucia’s captain Shem Maxwell and Roxanne Snyder tried to make the most of their scoring chances, but were unable to build a consistent attack.
With the lead as high as 12, coach Anna Shepherd made more changes, bringing in teenager Shonica Wharton (goal shoot), Damisha Croney (wing attack) and Jeneice Clarke (wing defence), with Blackman dropping back to centre with Bruce and Samantha Browne taking over centre pass duties.
This unit went on another run, pushing the score from 37-26 to 43-27 at the end of the third quarter.
Sabreena Smith came in at centre in the final quarter, but this final combination was not as effective, only scoring eight goals. They struggled to get the ball in into the shooter, but were good enough to secure the 18-goal lead.
Piggott finished with 23 goals from 30 attempts while Laurel Browne only missed three of her 19 shots and Wharton netted 12 of 16 attempts.
Today, Barbados will play Botswana and Northern Ireland will take on St Lucia. (SAT)

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