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Graydon Sealy, QC netball final

Justin Marville

Graydon Sealy, QC netball final

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Once again, the champs have come out on top of schools’ netball’s most epic rivalry.
National goal shooter Shonica Wharton had three crucial goals inside the final two minutes as defending three-time Under-19 queens Graydon Sealy survived a furious rally to advance to tomorrow’s final against Queen’s College via yesterday’s 30-26 thriller over Springer Memorial at the Netball Stadium.
It was just the latest instant classic in a series full of them following last year’s near identical 32-27 title game that was also decided in the dying moments. of the National Sports Council organised tournament.
Queen’s College had no such drama in their semi-final though, holding Lodge scoreless in the second quarter en route to an easy 21-10 victory that kept this season’s unbeaten record intact.
But the only record Graydon Sealy was concerned with was their recent streak of finals appearances, which they extended to four in a row despite throwing away all but three of a menacing nine-goal lead (22-13) in the third quarter.
This was after the previously unbeaten Springer scored the game’s first three goals of a surprisingly quick 4-1 lead while Wharton initially struggled to find her range.
However, Wharton soon got going, using her six-foot frame to dominate the circle with senior head coach Anna Shepherd looking on from the sideline.
A 7-6 Springer advantage then became a stunning 16-10 cushion for the champs as Cassandra Lawrence, in spite of her great length and athleticism, just couldn’t get her hands on the lofted balls intended for the towering Wharton.
And she made Springer pay whenever she touched the ball, especially in the second quarter where she scored an impressive 10 of 11 to give Graydon Sealy a six-goal half-time lead before returning in the third quarter as part of an early 6-3 run (22-13) that seemingly all but decided the contest.
Springer still fought valiantly, particularly Shakeillia Smith and Khadija Domingo, who both made good use of great passes from Zakiya Kirton by routinely converting their attempts towards the end of the third.
The two weren’t done yet either, igniting a furious fourth-quarter rally that got the Government Hill lasses within three (27-24) following some sloppy passing and wasted possessions from the champs.
But Wharton was still there to slam the door shut after outjumping Lawrence again for two crucial goals to end the rally before adding another when Smith threatened again down the stretch.
Wharton finished with 26 from 34 while goal attack Alyssa Bynoe was a wayward four of 14. At the other end, Smith converted 12 of her 18 attempts and Domingo went 14 from 18.
Earlier, QC rattled off seven unanswered goals in the second quarter to open a 14-3 lead before cruising to an easy 11-point win.
Vanessa Bobb and Cheneque Thomas initially struggled with the length of Lodge goal keeper Lonell Browne while missing seven of their first nine attempts from the floor.
However, Queen’s College eventually broke out of a 1-1 deadlock by scoring four straight before holding Lodge scoreless in an extremely lopsided second-quarter affair.
Thomas scored 14 of her 26 attempts while Bobb converted seven of 16. For Lodge, Jemmott was an efficient seven of 10 while Trishan Deane scored three of seven.