41-37 win keeps Villa alive
A game with 34 goals from 39 attempts by Latonia Blackman saw Guardian Group Pride Of Villa defeating Pine Hill St Barnabas 41-37 to remain in the hunt for the 2018 league netball crown when the Division 1 action continued at the Netball Stadium on Friday night.
Following their last loss to Spooners Hill Firebirds, Villa could not suffer another defeat and remain in contention for the title which is not being defended by the previously invincible UWI Blackbirds Signia. Firebirds remain the only unbeaten team with a 3-0 record.
St Barnabas, who were playing their first game of the season, were looking to overcome the challenge of battling without their main defender Shonette Bruce. Replacement national Shonte Seale played a superb role in containing Blackman, particularly double teaming the Villa’s key weapon with Sade Browne. However, Blackman’s superior experience and skills led Villa to victory with Faye Agard and Kamillah Burke’s defence at the other end of the court keeping shooters Shanice Banfield (22/36) and Zakiya Kirton (15/22) in check.
St Barnabas, with a young squad on court, took the only lead in the game at 1-0 and locked the scores at 1-1, 2-2 and 15-15 with Villa controlling the match in spite of losing momentum at times. They led 12-9, 25-18 and 31-29.
Seale used her tremendous speed and elevation to snare many passes into the circle to slow Blackman’s scoring. But, a supporting effort from Shakeena Rock (7-13) and great midcourt play from Chante Moore, Delicia Murrell and Nadia Blackman thwarted St Barnabas’ fight-backs.
Surprisingly, St Barnabas kept Vanessa Bobb on the bench until Samantha Browne, who had missed last season for a maternal experience, asked to be subbed in the first quarter. Young Stephian Shepherd replaced Najae Moore in the third quarter to make great impact for St Barnabas.
Villa lost Nadia at 23-16 in the second quarter with an Achilles worry and replacement Alicia Brathwaite struggled as St Barnabas surged from 18-25 in the third quarters to reach 24-25 with Banfield lighting up the shooting circle with some long distance missles.
With Brathwaite continuing to struggle while Villa kept a two-goal lead, things looked even more dire with Rock provided mirth for the spectators at 30-25 rushing from the court with a coiffure malfunction. While Rock remained in the bathroom for over five minutes Villa held on for a two-goal lead.
Latonia took charge in the final quarter with a perfect eight from eight, denying another St Barnabas comeback and sealing the crucial win. (KB)