Don’t count the defending champions out just yet.
In a must-win situation of the #1 Beauty Supplies and Beauty Exchange Barbados Amateur Basketball Association Women’s League finals last night at the Wildey Gymnasium, reigning queens Preferred Insurance Brokers Pinelands gave themselves a lifeline, as they managed to maintain a grip on their league title by winning game two in the best of three series 58-42 to tie the contest 1-1 against Lady Cougars.
On a new state of the art court at the Gymnasium, conditions suited Pinelands better, as they were able to outrun Cougars coming onto the latter stages of the game to come from behind 11-17, command proceedings in the second and third stanzas 29-23, 41-39, and force a third and decisive championship game.
Of course, Cougars came with one game plan in mind yesterday and that was to lift the 2017 women’s league title having taken a 1-0 lead last week Wednesday. But Pinelands led by a game-high 24 points from power forward Latifah Wood had other ideas.
Wood along with point guards Maria Cumberbatch with a score of nine, Sade Clarke with a contribution of eight and Tamisha Flatts five, were able to intercept numerous balls and steal possession from Cougars whose players appeared exhausted and unable to keep up with the pace.
Flatts, in particular, played good defence as she had eight rebounds with seven on the defensive end, seven steals and five assists. Latifah Wood accounted for the most rebounds with 15 compared to her namesake, Anicia Wood with 11, as those three dominated proceedings inside the semicircle.
In the opening finals game last week, Cougars coached by Dexter Griffith were able to hit a number of short passes and run the Barbados Community College (BCC) court, but yesterday it was a different ball game as Pinelands coached by Ron Grant, even though being put on the back foot in the opening quarter, were able to bounce back at the start of the second quarter.
Within the first four minutes of the second period, Pinelands came from six points down [11-17] to equalize thanks to a collective effort of two points each from Cumberbatch, Latifah Wood and Anicia Wood. From there Latifah broke the deadlock with a strong aggressive layup to give Pinelands the advantage 19-17, followed by an eight-point run that forced Griffith to call timeout.
On resumption, he opted to bring back Gillian Martindale along with Sade Haynes, the biggest forward on court, to perhaps help Tricia Gill keep Latifah quiet. But instead, Pinelands managed to maintain their momentum by six points at halftime.
At the beginning of the penultimate quarter, Latifah was large and in charge again as she rolled her fingertips for a layup to extend the lead by eight for Pinelands. That is when Cougars’ captain and point guard Toni Atherley, the top-scorer with 17 points for her team, decided to take on Flatts and netted two, followed by a three-point jump shot to cut the deficit by three at 28-31, even though Latifah managed yet another layup in an effort to maintain that daylight at 33-28.
Nakish Joseph turned up with the basket for two and a free point shot (31-33) to keep Cougars’ chances alive. But each time hope prevailed it quickly faded as Pinelands quickly accelerated to an eight-point advantage [41-33] with limited time to play in the third quarter. Former national players, Atherley with 19 rebounds and Jennifer Joseph- Hackett with the second highest individual score of six and eight rebounds for her team, were able to once again breathe down Pinelands’ neck as they managed to team up and cut the deficit by two for Cougars heading into the decisive period.
However, that tiredness I spoke about earlier manifested itself in the scoreline as Pinelands registered 17 points compared to a mere three by Cougars in the fourth quarter as they were unable to keep up with a young athletic Pinelands team.
Game three will be contested this Wednesday, October 11 at the Barbados Community College.