Blackbirds upset St Barnabas

UWI BLACKBIRDS scored a fantastic one-goal upset win over knockout queens Pine Hill St Barnabas when the Barbados Netball Association’s Division One League continued on Wednesday night at the Netball Stadium.

With an all-round team performance marshalled by the speedy captain Damisha Croney, the Blackbirds matched St Barnabas in every facet of the game to surge from being behind 13-7, 22-19 and 31-29 at the end of each quarter to take the match 42-41.

Goal shoot Shonica Wharton scored 24 goals from 36 attempts but it was Kittitian Mechelle Liburd’s pivotal efforts in the fourth quarter at goal attack which gave the Blackbirds the edge. Liburd had replaced Barbados Under-21 captain Rieah Holder (0/4) from the first quarter to contribute 18 goals from 21 attempts.

In spite of scoring a match-high 38 from 44 shots, Barbados six-footer Laurel Browne endured a torrid time in the circle for St Barnabas as defenders Shanice Rock and Shanice Wharton played a stifling game which also intimidated St Barnabas from passing the ball into the circle to Browne. A sub par 3/10 from national Under-16 captain Sheniqua Thomas was also a let-down for St Barnabas.

Very few of the large number of fans in the stadium expected the tremendous comeback from the Blackbirds with St Barnabas rushing to a 6-1 lead early in the first quarter. Cherise Seale, Samantha Browne and Markayla Yearwood controlled St Barnabas’ centre court while Shonette Bruce and Jeneice Clarke dominated the defensive circle.

However, Croney who previously played a key centre court role for St Barnabas went into her flight mode to execute steals in every position. This ignited matching efforts from Jalisa Lovell and Jehlesal Brathwaite to be maximised by shooters Wharton and Liburd in the circle.

Blackbirds locked the scores for the first time at 22 and 23 in the third quarter with Wharton scoring six successive goals including two long range shots for UWI to advance to 26-23. The Blackbirds never converted again until St Barnabas regained the lead 29-26 with Laurel Browne deciding to match the aggression of her tormentors in the circle to sink six consecutive shots.

However, it became the Liburd show in the final quarter as St Barnabas quickly abandoned the idea of using Nneka Archer at goal keeper for Bruce and returned the Barbados player to the court to slow Shonica Wharton. Liburd went into a shooting zone locking the scores at 36, 37 and 38 before pulling a lead of 42-38.

Liburd almost threw it all away when she hesitated in the circle and decided to pass with a clear shot possible. Wharton missed the pass and St Barnabas gained the ball to score at the other end. Two more convertions by St Barnabas cut the lead by one goal and created greater excitement in the match.

St Barnabas could have locked the scores with Thomas getting the pass at 42-41 with the timekeeper counting down the seconds. However, Thomas was called for holding the ball too long to give the Blackbirds their first ever

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