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Fight to the finish


Kenmore Bynoe

Fight to the finish

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The unsportsmanlike conduct in the 2013 netball season reared its head once again at the Netball Stadium on Monday night with a fight to the end between Phoenix Gems and Guardian General Pride of Villa almost becoming a fight at the end.
The Gems took the Division 1 contest 41-36 as the game ended with six-footer Shonica Wharton, who is a junior and senior Barbados player, and Makeba Clarke looking to mix it up physically. 
While Clarke was physically restrained by teammate and Barbados captain Latonia Blackman, coach of the Gems, Sonia Knight, had to verbally admonish a Gems’ parent keen to get in the action.
Throughout the four quarters, there was aggressive play from Clarke and some of the Gems players with the umpires being rather generous in not blowing their whistles. 
With three players leaving the game with various injuries, a vision of combat was fashioned.
Gems had entered the match with a 0-2 record while Villa were 1-1 and keen to remain in contention for a playoff spot. 
Villa’s starter Kamillah Burke, who was subbed in the last game, never suited up. Goalkeeper Faye Sealy was still troubled by an injured right leg quadriceps, while Clarke showed up with a badly torn right palm and banged up knees and elbows suffered at her team’s last practice session.
Gems started with Wharton on the bench giving the imposing Chemyne Alleyne her first play for the league season. Alleyne shook off the rust to sink a game-high 21 goals from 28 attempts while goal attack Shannon Hackett scored eight of ten before giving way to her Graydon Sealy Secondary School teammate Wharton in the second quarter. Wharton ended with 12 goals from 15 shots.
Ironically, the fractious ending of the game almost overshadowed some great mid-court play from Nadia Blackman and Kathyann Wharton of Villa and Cherise Seale and Sheneisha Evelyn of Gems.
However, following a close first quarter lead of 10-8 Villa started to lose shape.
Goal shoot Kimberley Brathwaite, who scored five of seven, went off in the second quarter with an injured finger to be replaced by Latonia while sister Nadia moved to goal attack.
That Blackman duo was swapped around, with Latonia ending in her national team position of goal defence, hoping to shut down the two giants in Alleyne and Wharton, which saw the second quarter ending 20-18 in favour of Villa.
During the third quarter, Odelia Ryes of Villa collided with Alleyne and struck her head on the court. She was helped off after lying on the court for more than three minutes.
At that stage Gems were battling back to end the quarter 29-29. Ryes’ injury saw more adjustments which made way for Philicia Holder who topscored for Villa at goal shoot, sinking 15 goals from 18 attempts.
Nadia also spent some time in the shooters’ circle, being a perfect three and Kelly-Ann Knight scored her lone shot.
However, Latonia made 12 from 14 while spending most of her time playing an adhesive role in her team.
An aerial collision between Sealy and Alleyne in the tight fourth quarter saw the departure of the Barbados six-footer Sealy, who fell clutching her already injured leg. 
With a 39-36 advantage, Gems “froze” the ball in mid-court to deny Villa any chance of scoring. A similar strategy at 40-36 saw Wharton being struck by Clarke, who was blown for contact. 
After Wharton had scored the 41st goal for her team, there was further confrontation involving opposing players.   

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