'Birds' got it!

Kingston Hummingbirds snatch 2nd Berger Elite League crown

Sunday, February 04, 2018

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The Marvette Anderson-coached Kingston Hummingbirds made a spectacular rally in the last five minutes to overhaul Manchester Spurs and win the fourth staging of Netball Jamaica's Berger Elite League by a 64-59 scoreline in game two of the best-of-three finals at the National Arena last night.

“I'm feeling very happy. It's the first time that any team has won the championship twice, so the fact that my team was able to pull it off I'm really, really happy,” exclaimed Anderson.

Kingston Hummingbirds thus claimed their second hold on the title, following their success in the competition's inaugural year, 2014, when Sylvester Campbell was head coach. Last year they also made the final, but lost to St Ann Orchids, the team they beat in the semi-finals.

The Hummingbirds had won the opening final 61-52 on Thursday night when they led from start to finish.

Last evening, it was Manchester Spurs — the preliminary round front-runners — who were at the helm for practically all the contests. They led 18-11, 32-26, and 50-44 at the end of the first three quarters in a game where they also led by as many as 10 goals, until Kingston Hummingbirds' sensational finish.

“Awesome, awesome,” was how Anderson described their finish, which transformed a six-goal deficit into a five-goal win. “The players trusted and believed in each other; they kept encouraging each other, and we knew that if we stuck together we could pull it off.

“We've been in this position before, we have fighters on our team … We didn't want to play a game three and the players knew that they had to dig in; they did that and I'm very proud of them,” she added.

Key to that comeback was the fact that the Hummingbirds took better care of the ball and turned up the pressure on defence by converting opportunities off turnovers into goals to create pressure down the stretch.

The Spurs, who had been impressive throughout with Khadijah Williams, Nicole Dixon and Mellisa Wright running open court, suddenly cracked as their numbers dwindled.

Kingston Hummingbirds, now in the ascendancy, virtually exploded with goalkeeper Abbygail Linton and Hasana Williams making key interceptions, as Shanice Beckford erased the unusual errors from her game goal shooter Sabrina Spence responded with shot after shot after shot when it mattered most.

Spence ended with 48 goals from 54 attempts to be the game's high-scorer, while Beckford contributed well with 16 goals from 18 attempts for the Hummingbirds' other goals.

For Manchester Spurs, Anna-Kay Griffiths led the way with 42 goals from 48 tries, while Nicole Dixon scored 17 from 20.

“I'm very disappointed to lose this one. We knew what we had to do. We made the tactical adjustments and we knew that our attacking team is more than capable of carrying this home,” said Connie Francis, coach of the Manchester Spurs.

“We had been so good keeping the ball low, pushing it around and not allowing their defenders to touch any, and in the last two, three minutes, we went to pieces. Three interceptions from their defenders and that was it,” analysed Francis.

Despite the loss, Francis lauded her team.

She said: “I'm proud of my team for making it to the final. When this team was assembled we weren't given a chance; the girls gave themselves a chance, so kudos to them.”

Her opposite number, Anderson, also credited her opponents.

“Our opponents gave us a run for our money, hats off to them. They have nothing to feel bad about, that's how the game goes. But I'm glad that we ended up champions,” said Anderson.

Top individual awards were: Most Accurate Shooter - Tracy-Ann Barnes; Best Defensive Player, Vangelee Williams; and Best Centre Court Player, Adean Thomas.

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