Win No. 2 for Bajans
The future of netball in Barbados looks bright as teenagers Shonica Wharton and Sheniqua Thomas did the bulk of the scoring in Barbados’ 52-31 victory over Botswana yesterday.
Barbados are now 2-0 at the Senior International Festival of Netball at the Antrim Forum in Northern Ireland and will play the hosts today to determine who will finish at the top of the tables ahead of tomorrow’s final matches.
Wharton, who made her senior debut last year, scored 23 goals (full statistics not available) and Thomas added 13. Wharton entered the game in the second quarter with Nikita Piggott (12 goals) at goal attack, replacing Laurel Browne who scored a very quiet four goals in 15 minutes.
Wharton scored four consecutive goals, taking the scoring from 13-8 to 17-8. Thomas came in at half-time when the score was 24-17.
She took some time to settle. After missing her first attempt, she settled in and made good use of the baseline to get free from the taller Botswana defence.
Barbados enjoyed their most productive quarter during the third period, outscoring the African team 16-5 to take a 40-22 lead.
A six-goal run took the score to 30-17 at the start and then a five-goal run extended it to 17 (35-18). This was a good comeback from the second quarter where Barbados were very sloppy with the ball, turning it over at least three times on their centre pass to let Botswana back in, after going on their own seven-goal run to trail 21-15.
Team captain Latonia Blackman continues to dictate play from the centre position where she played for the whole game. She made two interceptions on the same sequence to rob Botswana of a goal and put Barbados up 38-20.
One pick was made in the centre court and another in defence after Barbados had turned the ball back over and Thomas sank a long-range beauty to cap the move. Goal defence Rhe-Ann Niles made one of her several interceptions on the next play for the 19-goal lead (39-20).
Barbados started with Browne, Piggott, Samantha Browne, Blackman, Jeneice Clarke, Shonette Bruce and Niles but didn’t look as dominant as the first game, despite the 13-8 lead.
Marville replaced Clarke in the second period when Wharton entered the game, but that 15 minutes was their worst passage of play.
In the second half, Damisha Croney came on at wing defence and the circle defence was switched, with Niles moving to goal defence and this seemed to nullify Botswana’s attack even more.
Botswana stuttered in the midcourt, wilting under Barbados’ swarming defensive pressure. They turned the ball over too many times on their centre pass and simply could not keep up.
Barbados kept piling on the pressure even though Wharton and Thomas missed a few sitters.
Nothing showed how well they worked together than the play when Thomas missed the shot, Wharton stretched out of bounds to flick it back to Thomas who scored, then exchanged high-fives in celebration.
Early in the fourth quarter, Barbados pushed the lead as high as 24 goals (47-23) then eased off the gas as Botswana scored a few consolation goals at the end.
Northern Ireland are also unbeaten, defeating St Lucia 61-36. (SAT)