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Guy buoyed by positives as Orchids look to semis

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Ravaged by a plethora of problems at just about every step all season, St Ann Orchids' head coach, Janet Guy, is finally seeing some encouragement in her Berger Elite League outfit.

The bright signals came during their final preliminary game of the Netball Jamaica semi-professional league, a game they won 45-40 over the improving Clarendon Gaters, in the opening game of Wednesday's double-header at Leila Robinson Courts.

“I must commend the team. I think the effort was there, I think they stuck to the plan to keep possession of the ball,” said Guy.

“However, we had a few turnovers, but at least they put in the effort and were working back for it (ball), so it made us feel much better that they understood and they're looking much better to compete in the next round,” added Guy.

Her team begun the journey and had to run the entire journey without top defender Stacian Facey. Then they ensured a horrid patch and lost key games without national trio Vangelee Williams, their captain and top defender, plus their main attackers, the injured Thristina Harwood and Rebekah Robinson (surgery), who both play shooting positions.

A game earlier Williams and Harwood returned to the court and Robinson is back on the bench. That is giving them a better look for Saturday's semi-final against defending champions Kingston Hummingbirds, who hammered them for a season-high 70-odd goals in a preliminary match-up. With close to her full core back on call, Guy believes they are on even keel.

“No team in the league is unbeatable and I think our team is no less,” she said. “It's just that we've been going through many things, which we're trying to overcome at this stage. The game is there for anybody, but we're going there to get a perfect score. We've to work hard in order to get that, meaning that we've to score our centre passes, we've to execute as much as we can and try and get some steals.”

The Orchids did their fair share on Wednesday when Simone Gordon and Harwood kept them ahead 11-8, 23-17, 33-27 through the first three quarters in a tight battle.

Gordon scored 38 goals from 43 attempts, while Harwood netted seven of 11 tries.

At the scoring end, Clarendon Gaters head coach, Dalton Hinds, tried several combinations and got goals from Petal Smith, 20 from 24 attempts, Shedeiky Hamilton-Barnes, 16 of 20 tries, Amanda Pinkney, two from two and Shadian Hemmings, two from six.

“We never had a good start and there were just so many inconsistencies, because we really have not been training as a group and I just thought that the ladies just went out there and they just never followed the instructions,” said Dalton Hinds, head coach of Clarendon Gaters.

“The instructions were: just be patient with the ball, attack well. We understand that they have two very good defenders who are very agile and athletic, so if we come forward for the ball and keep possession the rule protects you because they can't take the ball from you. And then we (were playing) a lot of aerial balls; if you notice and lot of the balls that were intercepted were mainly balls that were placed in the air,” Hinds observed.

Gaters finished fourth with nine points and Orchids third with 10 to complete the semi-final fixture ahead of St Catherine Racers (seven) and St James Sharpes (six). Manchester Spurs and Kingston Hummingbirds finished with 27 points apiece from nine wins and a loss against each other. However, Spurs ended top by virtue of a better goal difference and will play Clarendon Gaters in the semis.

“It's just to keep emphasising the points of taking care of the ball and shooting. I thought that defensively we were very good, we couldn't ask anything more from the defenders. But on attack, we weren't patient and we took a little while in settling down where the shooting was concerned. We just never got that synergy going as we'd have liked in the attack and I thought that we basically lost the game in the attack,” said Hinds.

In Wednesday's opener, Kingston Hummingbirds beat St James Sharpes 61-36. For the Hummingbirds, Hasana Williams scored 39 goals from 47 attempts, while Shanice Beckford scored 22 from 26.

Kestina Sturridge netted 31 from 35 tries for Sharpes, whose other goals came from Vanessa Jones, four from seven and Conique Moore one of two.

In today's semi-finals, Kingston Hummingbirds (second) vs St Ann Orchids (third) at 6:00 pm, and at 7:45 pm, it will be Manchester Spurs (first) vs Clarendon Gaters (fourth).