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Rangers and Firebirds cruise


KENMORE BYNOE

Rangers and Firebirds cruise

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Former queens C.O. Williams Rangers and Spooners Hill Firebirds easily advanced to the semi-finals of the 2018 netball Senior Knockouts when the action continued on Monday night at the Netball Stadium.

Current and former Barbados shooters played key roles for both Rangers and Firebirds, who shook off slow starts to oust lesser-rated opponents.

Barbados attacker Nikita Payne, playing her first match for the season, scored 34 goals from 48 attempts to lead Rangers to a 48-34 win over Division 2 WOW Shottas. Tatyana Walrond was also impressive in sinking 14 of 17 for Rangers.

Former national netballer and basketballer Wanda Agard-Belgrave gave hope to Shottas with 34 goals from 45 attempts, but got little support, as Rasheda Gusta made none of her three shots.

A 16-6 explosion in the second quarter from Rangers sank Shottas, who trailed in all of the quarters (8-9, 14-25, 25-36 and 34-48).

Firebirds, who are awaiting opponents to battle for the league title, maintained their dominance over Wolverines with a 58-36 victory after a slow 14-10 start in the first quarter.

Former Barbados shooter Lydia Bishop scored a game-high 34 goals from 38 shots.

With Bishop dominating the shooting circle, the normally unhurried Kerry Brathwaite played a more intense game, scoring 21 of 27. Under-21 player Acacia Small ran a great mid-court, backed up by strong defence from Shondelle Sandiford and Diamond Hollingsworth.

The Wolverines looked like they would pose a challenge after ending the first two quarters within striking distance (10-14 and 22-26). But, Bishop and Brathwaite proved too lethal, setting up a runaway third quarter by scoring 18 goals to a paltry four by Wolverines. 

Carla Boyce enjoyed a 21-of-27 output for Wolverines and captain Tricia Briggs played one of her better shooting games, sinking 15 of 17, but their efforts were not enough.

On Friday, Firebirds will meet Guardian Group Pride of Villa, while Rangers battle their nemesis Pine Hill St Barnabas.

Firebirds scorched Villa in the league, while St Barnabas beat Rangers. With UWI Blackbirds not taking part in the 2018 netball season both the league and knockout thrones await new queens.

Firebirds and Villa have already qualified for the league play-off, while the delayed match between Rangers and St Barnabas could see St Barnabas making that a three-team play-off. (KB)

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