Blackbirds hoping for trio play-off
Anyone passing the UWI Blackbirds court at Cave Hill between now and Friday should not be surprised to see the Division 1 team training with pom-poms and rehearsing supporting chants.
That is because although Blackbirds have ended the regular Division 1 season with a 4-2 record and 24 points, they need defending champions COW Rangers to defeat Pine Hill Dairy St Barnabas on Friday night so that the trio would all finish on 24 points to create a play-off for league title.
In the first round the Blackbirds defeated St Barnabas by one point with St Barnabas returning the same favour to the Rangers. Although St Barnabas dismissed Blackbirds in the second round the UWI side held the door to the title open by defeating Rangers.
On Monday night, Blackbirds outplayed Guardian Pride of Villa to remain in the hunt while confirming the only sure thing in Division 1 netball, Villa will place last. Blackbirds took the game 53-42 to end a winless season for Villa who hold a record of 0-6 and 12 points.
Villa actually held Blackbirds in the first two quarters to 14-14 and 28-26 before dropping to 41-35 and fading in the fourth quarter. Blackbirds’ Shonica Wharton was shooting in the top 40 with 40 goals from 48 attempts while Kittitian Mechelle Liburd added a solid 13 of 19.
Barbados captain Latonia Blackman, in the unusual role of shooter, scored an impressive 37 goals from 44 attempts even under the pressure of twin towers Shanice Rock and Shanice Wharton in the circle. However, the shorter Kelly-Ann Knight played a poor supporting role making just five of 17 shots for Villa.
Blackbirds’ centre court was missing the speedy Damisha Croney who was resting after suffering a concussive blow in their last win over Rangers. However, Jalisa Lovell and Jehlesal Brathwaite performed adequately while Under-21 player Shanice Blade offered some comic relief by flopping down in the second quarter and being helped off of the court citing that she was “overheating”.
Villa, who had asked to compete in a lower division at the start of the 2014 season and who have struggled to find a competitive team all season, would have been happy with the performance of lower division player Makeda Stuart who played well at centre. The efforts of Nadia Blackman and a surprisingly subdued Makeba Clarke gave Villa many chances to end Blackbirds’ hopes of extending the season.
However, it will be now up to how well Blackbirds can chant and how well Rangers will play which will decide if the season will go into a play-off or whether St Barnabas, the knockout champions, will cap a double crown season on Friday night.
Newsbury All Stars defeated Lumber Company UAC 27-25
Pine and Wildey defeated Bathsheba Combined 25-12
Sion Hill defeated Police Sports Club 21-17
Phoenix Protection defeated Flashback 23-14
Princess Margaret defeated Boscobelle 23-22