Villa on verge of playoffs
Guardian General Pride of Villa all but guaranteed themselves a spot in the Barbados Netball Association’s league playoffs while crushing the chances of the UWI Blackbirds on Wednesday night.
Villa scored a 42-34 victory at the Netball Stadium to earn their third win of the season and their second in succession to ensure that not even make-up classes can help the UWI girls to advance to the next round. The Blackbirds have won just one game.
Runaway leaders Pine Hill St Barnabas, defending champions CO Williams Rangers and the mercurial Spooner’s Hill who have established themselves as the “big three” will qualify for the next round in that order. The battle between Villa, Gems and UWI will determine who gains the dubious honour of facing the unbeaten St Barnabas in the semis.
Since Gems and UWI can only overhaul Villa with victories over two of the big three, it seems certain that Villa will grab the fourth spot in the semis.
Barbados players Faye Sealy and Latonia Blackman starred on the night with Sealy assuming an attacking role, scoring 31 of 46 attempts as goal shooter while Blackman teamed with her sister Nadia to control the midcourt with some crafty steals and accurate passes to deny UWI any hopes of taking the match.
Kimberley Brathwaite fully recovered from a finger injury to sink 11 of 18 for Villa at goal shooter. The imposing Philicia Holder was brought up from the lower division to fill in for Sealy as goalkeeper and she frustrated UWI’s ace shooter Monique James.
James earned just 13 goals from 26 shots before she was replaced by wing attack Damisha Croney, who hit six of ten. The consistent Kittitian Michelle Liburd scored 15 of 20 as UWI coach Margaret Cutting chopped and changed in the hope that someone would take charge of the game.
The final scoreline did not reflect the dominance which Villa established. They led in all quarters 14-10, 24-18, 35-24 before taking the game 42-34.
Life will not get any easier for the Blackbirds today as they face Spooner’s Hill at 8 p.m. at the Netball Stadium.