Number 859 • Friday, April 15, 2011

St. Lucia Poised to Win Caribbean Netball Association U 16 Title
By Enver Pemberton
St. Lucia defends against Trinidad and Tobago
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With five matches completed and three to go at press time, St. Lucia is sitting in the enviable pole position with a perfect record of five wins and no losses.

This year only five teams (Barbados Dominica, St. Lucia St. Vincent and Trinidad and Tobago) are competing in a two rounds of round robin matches in the Championship Division of the Jean Peirre Caribbean Netball Association Competition. The other four teams (St. Kitts/Nevis, Guyana, Bermuda and Anguilla) are competing in a separate Developmental Division.

Jamaica, the perennial champ in the championship division, opted out this year and that gave way for the likes of Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados to savour victory for the first time in a long while.

St. Lucia came through as a party spoiler. The team signalled its intentions in the first match of the tournament by defeating Trinidad and Tobago, 32 -28, and left the Soca girls shocked and in dismay. In that game St. Lucia had to come from behind after trailing for the first two quarters to draw level before taking an unassailable lead going into the final quarter.

Trinidad and Tobago held a slender one point lead after the first quarter and kept the same lead at half time with a score of 18-17. St. Lucia changed gears in the third quarter and restricted the Trinbagonians to four baskets while they netted eight in the process to take the lead at 26 – 21 at the end of the third.

In the final quarter, urged on by a noisy bench, St. Lucia scored three unanswered goals to grab an eight-point lead. Trinidad and Tobago roared back with five successive goals, narrowing the lead to three. However, some nervousness set in and crucial turnovers in the shooting circle for Trinidad gave St. Lucia the break they needed and they made good use of it. They pushed on the 32 and held off the Trinidad charge, allowing only two more baskets in the dying moments of the game.

Following that victory, St. Lucia recorded lopsided wins over Dominica and St. Vincent to set up a clash of the undefeated teams Barbados and St. Lucia on Monday April 11.

In that game it was an incredible perfect last quarter from the St. Lucian shoots Jo-Ann Anderson and Iana Hippolyte that led St. Lucia to a 27-24 triumph.

Anderson scored three from three while Hipppolyte scored all eight of her attempts to give St. Lucia 11 goals in the final and decisive quarter.

Meanwhile, the St. Lucian mid court literally stifled the Barbados girls who could only manage five goals in the quarter.

In the early exchanges Barbados kept consistent traffic through the main goal shoot Shonica Wharton who scored almost all of Barbados’ points (23). Her efforts brought Barbados from a three goal deficit (5-8) after the first quarter to a slender one point lead at half time (13 -12). Barbados extended the lead at end of the third quarter 19-16 and was hoping to keep the lead until the end.

St. Lucia kept up the pressure and fought toe to toe. There were several lead changes and tied scores as neither team was prepared to wilt under pressure.

However ,St. Lucia was the flawless in its shooting in the fourth quarter and continued its scoring dominance.

The sound of the final horn was mixed with screams of joy from the entire St. Lucian contingent.

At the onset of round two, St. Lucia had a much easier task putting away Trinidad and Tobago (27-19) for a second time. On this occasion St. Lucia led all quarters and had a surprisingly comfortable victory against Trinidad and Tobago which had also lost to Barbados.

Meanwhile in the Development Division Bermuda is the one that has the perfect record of 5-0. The only real contest there is between themselves and St. Kitts and Bermuda came out on top in the first encounter. The visitors proved too fast and fit for their Kittitian counterparts. St. Kits stayed close throughout the early exchanges but as the game went on Bermuda pulled away for a 32 -19 victory.

In the remaining games a climax is expected when Barbados tries its uttermost to stop St. Lucia. St. Kitts will examine the possibility of rebounding against Bermuda to determine the two titles.

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