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Brave Young Sunshine Girls suffer semifinal heartbreak

Jamaica’s Young Sunshine Girls put on a gutsy display against New Zealand in the World Youth Championships yesterday but went down 53-44 in their semifinal. It was the first time the girls had tasted defeat in the competition, having beaten all their previous opponents including Caribbean neighbours, Trinidad and Tobago in the quarter finals.

Jamaica’s Young Sunshine Girls put on a gutsy display against New Zealand in the World Youth Championships yesterday but went down 53-44 in their semifinal. It was the first time the girls had tasted defeat in the competition, having beaten all their previous opponents including Caribbean neighbours, Trinidad and Tobago in the quarter finals.

 

The game which was expected to be a blockbuster proved to be just that. The first quarter saw the Caribbean girls fire the opening salvo as they jumped out to an early 3 goal lead before New Zealand clawed their way back into the game. The ‘Baby Ferns’ would eventually take the first quarter 15-13.

Inexplicably, the Jamaicans seemed a bag of nerves in the second quarter and turned the ball over with such regularity that the ‘Baby Ferns’ were able to build up a sizable lead at half time as they lead 31-19 at the break.

Whatever coach Oberon Pitterson-Nattie said at half time made a tremendous impact as the Jamaican ladies stormed back, seizing control of the third quarter. The defensive display by inspirational captain Vangalee Williams and Shameka Sterling led to a number of turnovers by the Kiwis and the offensive pair of Shanice Beckford and Thristina Harwood (in for the injured Shantal Slater) took full advantage. 

The noise inside the Emirates Arena in Glasgow Scotland was deafening  as the Jamaicans scored 19 goals in the third quarter to match their total first half output while limiting their opponents to just 6 as the scoreboard read  – Jamaica 38-37 New Zealand with one quarter left to play.

It seemed as if their third quarter exertions were a bit too much as the fourth quarter proved to be a bridge too far for the Jamaicans. They failed to spark on both the defensive and offensive end and the ‘Baby Ferns’ capitalised to register a good win to book a spot in Saturday’s final against Australia.

Beckford led the scoring for the brave girls with 20 from 23, Harwood got 17 from 25 and the injured Slater had 7 from 8.

A proud but disappointed Pitterson-Nattie said after the game – “We struggled to get the ball into the shooters in the last quarter. “I thought our timing was a bit off. New Zealand kept getting the deflections and the calls just weren’t going our way.”

JNA President Marva Bernard posted on Facebook after the game: “My young Sunshine Girls may have lost the march but they won the hearts of an arena of spectators. It was undoubtedly the best match of the tournament so far- many compliments on a sterling performance. Congratulations all round. But the job is not done. We have to be ready for the bronze medal match on Sunday.”

Captain Vangalee Williams was no doubt disappointed with the loss but insisted that the team would dust themselves off and be ready to reclaim their bronze medal they won in the last Youth Championships. They will play England, who they beat on three occasions in a preparation Tri-Series in Kingston last month.

Jamaica’s Shanice Beckford (right) and New Zealand’s Phoenix Karaka in a tussle for possession during yesterday’s World Youth Netball semi-final match in Glasgow, Scotland. New Zealand defeated Jamaica 53-44.

Collin Reid photo courtesy of Supreme Ventures, Courts and Scotiabank

 

 

 

 

 

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