Blackbirds upset Rangers in thriller
UWI Blackbirds knocked out netball league queens C.O. Williams Rangers 33-32 in a thrilling season opener to create early shockwaves at the Netball Stadium on Monday night.
Led by a classy display from national Under-21 captain Rieah Holder and teammate Shonica Wharton as well as a late insertion by Shanice Wharton, the Blackbirds surged from 13-7 and 16-20 to lock the scores 25 all at the end of the third quarter before squeezing out the victory in a gripping fourth quarter.
The Rangers’ experience controlled the early exchanges with a starting seven of Vanessa Reid-Cox at goal shoot, Nikita Piggott, goal attack; Kathy-Ann Agard at wing attack, Sabreena Smith, centre, Tyneisha Rowe, wing defence; Adrianne Bynoe goal defence and Rhe-Anne Niles, goalkeeper.
The Blackbirds started with Shonica, goal shoot; Holder goal attack, Mechelle Liburd, wing attack; Damisha Croney centre, Jehlesal Brathwaite wing defence, Alicia Harding goal defence and Shanice Rock goal keeper.
Goal shoot Wharton sank 18 goals from 27 attempts while Holder scored 14 of 20 with the most critical being big moment shots as she scored the last three goals to give the Blackbirds a narrow win. Kittitian Liburd scored the other goal for the Blackbirds.
Vanessa Reid-Cox carried the goal shoot fight for the Rangers scoring a game-high 19 of 28 in spite of sitting out the third quarter with Barbados cap Nikita Piggott scoring 13 from 18 attempts before sitting of the final quarter. The short Shakeena Rock made no impression when she held the goal attack bib in that quarter missing both of her attempts.
A good crowd including over 50 supporters from Cave Hill watched the opening exchanges which produced the excitement normally kept for a season ender. After missing the first shot of the game Reid-Cox settled to create headaches for Shanice Rock who battled well.
Shanice Wharton and Holder were constantly harried by the defence of the multi talented Niles and Bynoe with the relatively young Wharton being often intimidated from taking her shots and being denied the ball constantly by the faster Rangers’ defenders. However, once Wharton gained her confidence she rattled off some long-range bombs which excited the crowd.
Unfortunately, after being in control of the first two quarters, the Rangers were forced to sub Agard with a breathing problem in the third with Agard returning in the same quarter after the injury prone Rowe had to be lifted from the court. The Blackbirds outscored their opponents from the second to the fourth quarter.
It was in the third quarter that the Blackbirds really showed their ability with Wharton shaking off two easy misses to hit back-to-back shots to lock the scores 25-all thanks to three successive misses from Piggott.
That final quarter saw panic and some scrappy midcourt play from both sides. However, the excellence from Holder in beating the defence of Niles to swish the bottom of the net three times stunned the Rangers and started unbridled celebrations among Blackbirds supporters in the stands.
Intermediate 1 knockout results:
Newbury defeated Eastern Stars 32-15
Intermediate 2 knockout results:
C.O. Williams Rangers def. the Barbados Defence Force 37-4
Sion Hill def. Vauxhall 26-7
Hotspurs def. Phoenix 29-4
Police Sports Club def. Bico 23-11