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Rangers fight off Blackbirds

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Rangers fight off Blackbirds

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Defending champions C.O. Williams Rangers needed to dig deep to hold off UWI Blackbirds in Division 1 action  at the Netball Stadium  on Saturday night.
The Rangers rode  to 3-0 record with a 44-36 victory thanks to a 32 of 37 shooting performance from veteran Olivia Walcott who was wearing the goal shoot bib.  
The pint-sized Shakeena Rock was solid in sinking 12 goals  from 19 attempts  at goal attack.
Although the Blackbirds showed incremental improvement, they once again flagged and fluttered in the second half of the game with the midcourt almost walking as Rangers picked up some steam to gain more breathing space.  
Goal shoot Monique James enjoyed one  of her better games  with 26 of 33 while  St Lucia national player Mechelle Liburd sunk  ten of 13.
The Blackbirds matched Rangers point  for point for a while,  but the speed and leaping ability of Tyneisha Rowe, Sabreena Smith, Janelle Sealy and Rhe-Ann Niles created the difference  as Rangers enjoyed  ten more chances at goal  – 56 shots – than the Blackbirds. Furthermore, the Blackbirds underused Liburd even though  Niles was constantly  in James’ space.
Jehlesal Brathwaite and Alicia Harding defended strongly  in the shooting circle  for UWI but the class  of Walcott and Rock  could not be denied.  
Damisha Croney  who last campaigned  for knockout queens  Pine Hill St Barnabas  was a standout at wing attack. Wing defence Taressa Howell and goalkeeper also Harding played skillfully  in mid court.
After trailing by just one point (11-10) in the first quarter, UWI locked the scores at 16 and continued in that vein  up to 20 at the end  of the second quarter.  
The Blackbirds squandered their chance to take charge after Walcott missed successive shots at 21-22 but Niles cleaned up once again  at the end with an interception to stop  UWI from opening  up a bigger lead.
After catching their opponents at 25, Rangers then moved to a  third-quarter advantage  of 32-28 with the 12-8  goal difference earned  in that quarter being repeated in the final quarter for Rangers  to tune up  for today’s clash against Guardian General Pride of Villa  at 7 p.m.
St Barnabas who are  3-0 will battle Rangers  on Friday while the key basement battle between Blackbirds (0-4) and Phoenix Gems (1-2) takes place on Wednesday. Spooner’s Hill are 2-1.