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Blackbirds and Cavs in KO wins

Justin Marville

Blackbirds and Cavs in KO wins

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Everything is still on course for the clash of the titans.

Reigning queens Station Hill Cavaliers and title contenders UWI Blackbirds are just a step away from yet another finals showdown after the women’s basketball rivals recorded contrasting opening round wins in the knockout tournament on Saturday.

Playing at the Wildey Gym, the lady Cavs jumped all over a Makela Walcott-less Hoopsters from the opening tip en route to a 70-41 blowout, before the league-leading Blackbirds survived a spirited performance from Clapham to beat the Bulls 66-48.

The effort was surprising to say the least, considering the winless Bulls were 36-point walkovers the last time the two sides met in the league.

But national captain Toni Atherley wasn’t quite in the same form, having hit just two of her first eight shots while Clapham trailed by just two (15-13) after one.

Jeneice Clarke’s introduction off the bench further helped Bulls stay in the contest, as she created easy opportunities around the paint via her movement off the ball while Irecka Lous drained a couple of short jumpers.

However, UWI subsequently forced turnovers which led to transition points for Atherley, who also drained a couple jumpers to help the Blackbirds turn a 32-26 half-time cushion into a 53-36 rout.

Bulls did threaten late though, holding UWI to just two points over the first four minutes of the fourth quarter to pull within nine points (55-46) at one stage.

But Atherley was back at it again, scoring the side’s next seven points to effectively finish the contest.

Atherley had a game-high 26 points and 13 rebounds, Jennifer Joseph added 14 points and 11 boards while Sade Clarke had ten points and eight assists. Louis led Clapham with 12 points and 15 rebounds while Jacqui Browne-McConney had 11 points.

Earlier, Maria Cumberbatch scored 27 points and Station Hill restricted their opponents to single digits in every quarter but the fourth in a lopsided result.

Without the suspended Walcott, the schoolgirls just couldn’t muster any offence outside of point guard Ashlee Daniel, who was forced to go coast-to-coast on several possessions.

She was the lone Hoopsters player in double digits with 19 points and 18 rebounds, but she also committed 12 turnovers while Shorey assisted Cumberbatch with 11 points.

Wanda Agard-Belgrave chipped in with eight points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and five steals.

Station Hill are slated to face Warrens in Tuesday’s semi-finals while UWI face Urban Vybz St John’s Sonics.

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