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Birds whip the Bulls

Justin Marville

Birds whip the Bulls

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It didn’t take long for Clapham to see what they’re missing from their championship days.

Or more precisely, who they’re missing.

Toni Atherley wasn’t missing, though, at least not from deep, as the national captain drained six triples to lead women’s basketball title contenders UWI Blackbirds in Tuesday’s routine 66-30 walkover of her former team Clapham Bulls at the Wildey Gymnasium.

The defeat was the second in three nights for the recently returned Bulls, whose title-winning side was stunningly dismantled a year ago following the high-profile departures of Atherley, Sade Clarke and Jennifer Joseph-Hackett.

And those championship days seem but a distant memory now as Clapham’s ageing unit struggled to defend the quicker Blackbirds in the open floor.

But they weren’t only surrendering fast-break layups, as Atherley repeatedly pulled up on the left wing for uncontested treys off a secondary break that also produced easy scores for Clarke and Joseph-Hackett.

So what initially started as a quick 15-4 opening burst soon became one massive 34-9 second-quarter hole that Clapham didn’t have the firepower to dig out of.

It didn’t help matters any that the Bulls took some injudicious shots, with Latecia Greene missing shots on six straight possessions at one point while combining with Sade Haynes to go two of 25 from the floor.

Allison Brewster and Antonia Baptiste did make a concerted effort to stop the transition buckets thereafter, before Baptiste and Jacqui Walcott (née Browne) aggressively attacked the rack at the other end.

Atherley rendered those efforts futile with two triples to start the third quarter, though, before Toni-Ann Johnson added a couple baskets of her own.

Even diminutive guard Alana King sank a rare jumper to push the lead to 40 (61-21) before reserve forward Ashley Rock sealed the deal on the inside.

Atherley finished with 24 points and ten rebounds, and Clarke added 16 points and seven assists, while Baptiste led Clapham with 12 points.

Earlier, Tiffany Husbands had four of her game-high 15 points down the stretch as Urban Vybz St John’s Sonics held off a strong challenge from Warrens before winning their season-opener 53-48.

Rosalind Davis and Wanda Small scored 13 and 12 points, respectively, while Husbands added 11 boards for a Sonics team that surrendered a double-digit margin only to pull away late in the contest.

Tiffany Thorpe was the lone Warrens player in double digits, with 14 points and 20 rebounds.