All the pre-game hype proved correct as Pine Hill St. Barnabas edged out Spooners Hill 44-43 in a thrilling Barbados Netball Association Senior Knockout Final at the Netball Stadium on Saturday night.
A game that was close from opening whistle to final, and played in somewhat damp conditions, was as much decided by the shooting prowess of St. Barnabas’ Laurel Browne who outgunned her Spooners Hill counterpart Lydia Bishop, as it was by the defensive presence of the outstanding and athletic goal-keep Shonette Bruce.
It was a see-saw battle throughout that saw Spooners Hill with a10-8 lead after the first quarter and a 21-19 advantage after the second quarter. However, St. Barnabas picked up their defensive intensity after the half to lead 34-33 after three periods and then, with fans on their feet, snatched the close win as the final whistle blew.Browne had 38 goals from 43 attempts while team-mate Sheniqua Thomas had six goals from seven attempts. Bishop netted 28 goals from 32 attempts but played at a noticeably slower pace than usual. She was harassed the entire night by the defensive presence of Bruce who asked no quarter and gave none, often bringing frustration from Bishop, one of Barbados’ best ever players.
Spooners Hill were not helped by the cold shooting of goal attack Keisha Griffith but got a superb showing from Griffith’s replacement Renee Rudder who showed a silky long range touch. But the Fates seemed to be against Spooners Hill because with the game on the line they lost the services of Rudder to a foot injury. She tried to make a comeback in the final quarter but had to depart from the game again leaving a major hole in Spooners Hill’s offence.
For St. Barnabas Laurel Browne was basically unstoppable under the goal with the athletic but shorter and smaller goal keep Kathleen Brathwaite finding it virtually impossible to stop her. Veteran and former national stand-out Jackie Browne-McConney was simply brilliant.
Playing at the goal-defence position her passes were unerringly accurate and found their mark almost 98 per cent of the time.
Conversely, Bishop suffered from a number of errant in-coming passes that were either out of her reach or were intercepted by the swiftness of Jeniece Clarke and wing defence Ashley Marshall.
Spooners Hill actually led in the final quarter but St. Barnabas came storming back compliments of two vital goals by Laurel Browne with the clock ticking down and an offensive stop by arguably the Player-of-the Game, Bruce.
The final whistle was met with jubilation by the St. Barnabas fans and players alike.In earlier matches Spooners Hill defeated St. Barnabas in the Intermediate 2 Knockout Final 20-19 and Newbury mauled Fusion Netball Club 30-10 in the Intermediate Knockout 1 Final. (WG)†††