Excelsior High return as Senior Netball Champs, Gaynstead retain Junior title


Excelsior High return as Senior Netball Champs, Gaynstead retain Junior title

Friday, December 06, 2019

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Excelsior High School returned to the summit of the Urban Area Senior netball supremacy, while Gaynstead High retained their Junior title with wins over Norman Manley High and St Hugh’s High, respectively, in tne ISSA Urban Area Netball finals at the Leila Robinson Courts on Wednesday.

Both finals were close and exciting with Excelsior prevailing 26-22, while Gaynstead edged their contest 27-26.

The senior final promised much as both teams came into the game full of confidence and it was the more experienced Excelsior Eagles team that quickly established their dominance, securing a comfortable 9-5 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Eagles maintained their dominance during the second quarter as they produced the goods at both ends of the court, scoring another eight goals while limiting their opponents to five goals in consecutive quarters, as they headed into the half-time break with a 17-10 lead.

But the Excelsior scoring faltered in the third quarter as they registered only four goals compared to Norman Manley’s five goals, for a third-consecutive quarter, as the gap was cut by one to 21-15, with one quarter to go.

Smelling blood, Norman Manley produced their best quarter of the final, and when it mattered most. They went on a 7-2 run to start the fourth quarter, closing the gap on Excelsior to 23-22, bringing the crowd to their feet.

But the Christopher Smart-coached Excelsior maintained their composure down the stretch, scoring three unanswered goals to close out the game at 26-22 and regain the trophy they last won in 2017.

The high scorers for Excelsior were Rasheda Robinson with 16/27 and Chamoi Manahan with 10/20 while the high scorers for Norman Manley were Shanelle Bentley with 10/17 and Leisha Smith with 9/17.

In the Junior final the unfancied St Hugh’s Swans gave the defending champions Gaynstead Falcons quite a scare as they continued to produce the best season of netball in the school’s history.

Guided by former Sunshine Girl Nordia Hanson, the Swans set about making life miserable for the more experienced Falcons as they matched them stride for stride.

A keen first quarter ended in a 5-5 tie as the firsttime finalists made the champions sweat. St Hugh’s showed that they were really up for it in the second quarter and produced another five goals while limiting Gaynstead to one less, as they led 10-9 at the half-time break.

But the Falcons finally found their wings at the start of the third quarter, going on a four goal run to lead 13-10 midway the stanza. The Swans then gracefully eased their way back into the contest, drawing level at 15-15 before the teams traded goals to end the third quarter tied at 19-19.

The fourth quarter resembled a heavyweight boxing match where fighters’ trade punches as the teams mirrored each other almost all the way to the final whistle. The experience of the defending champions would tell in the final minutes as Gaystead held on to win by the slimmest of margins at 27-26.

Quanna Aitken with 20/28 led the way for Gaynstead while Sade Williams with 24/30 lead the way for St Hugh’s.

— Dwayne Richards

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