Netball

Harwood seeks to inspire younger Sunshine Girls

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

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In a young team, there's nothing like a big player stepping up their game.Age 22 is still young for a senior national team sport.

However, Thristina Harwood, by virtue of her quality, world level experience and status as the most capped Sunshine Girl in the three-Test series against Barbados, is a big player.

This she proved, yet again, even while not having a perfect shooting night, while leading the lines and scoring in Jamaica's 40-34 win in the second match at the National Indoor Sports Centre on Sunday night. The result – built on quarterly scores of 12-9, 22-18 and 30-25 – gave Jamaica the series lead, following a 44-44 tie in the first game on Friday night.

“I know that I'm an experienced player and… I wanted to bring my team. We've a very young team and I wanted to come on the court and motivate the girls, I wanted to play my part, I wanted to give them energy by scoring goals and that's what I did. I went on the court and did my thing and we came out victorious in the end,” said Harwood, who scored a game-high 19 goals, from 24 attempts.

She started the game at goal-attack, partnering her 17-year-old University of the West Indies (UWI) shooting partner, Shimona Nelson, on the offensive.

Truth be told, the teen was not having a bad shooting night, but a combination of her ball handling and overshot passes aimed towards her resulted in Jamaica turning over possession on a number of occasions.

The number of times it happened there, and at other areas of the court in a far from fluid Sunshine Girls display, was enough to frustrate many a player, and even the near houseful of spectators.

However, Harwood, who has represented Jamaica up to Netball World Cup level and won an MVP award at Fast5's World Series, took matters in her own hands and started raining goals from all angles and distances.

Her scoring highlight was a nothing-but-net, morale-boosting arc-nearing shot that mirrored a basketball three-pointer, which came on the fringe of half-time. It brought the house down and lifted the Jamaica team, which by then had dug out a four-point advantage towards the interval to lead 22-18.

“I've worked with Shimona, we attend the same university so I'm used to her. I think some of the passes that I was passing they were a bit over, too much behind and I think she was getting a lot of contact, but the umpires weren't blowing them. So what I needed to do was just adjust on the passes some more,” observed Harwood.

“She (Nelson) is very strong, she's really good, she can really shoot so we just need to fix stuff and we'll definitely fix it,” she continued, commending her teammate, who played up to half-time and converted 15 of 18 tries.

Rebekah Robinson, the second-half goal attack, who also plays with Harwood at UWI, scored the other six goals from eight attempts in a mixed Sunshine Girls display.

For the most part, Barbados' shooters converted well to keep the contest competitive, but getting the ball to their shooters proved tough.

Latonia Blackman, the goal attack, converted 17 of 19 attempts, while goal shooter Shonica Wharton missed only one of eight tries. Sheniqua Thomas was off, netting 10 of 15 attempts.

“What I thought won the game for us today was defence; the defence was absolutely awesome. The defenders did a really good job, we also did a team defence,” she admitted.

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