Netball

Sunshine Girls close Netball Youth Cup with victory

Monday, July 17, 2017

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Jamaica's Under-21 Sunshine Girls campaign at the Netball World Youth Cup ended on a high as they registered a 52-47 win over South Africa to secure fifth spot in Gaborone, Botswana, yesterday.

The young Sunshine Girls, who defeated Scotland 52-47 in the fifth-place play-off, were once again led by goal shooter Shimona Nelson, who sunk 26 off her 29 attempts to ensure the team a five-goal triumph.

The exploits earned her the award for Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the game.

Though failing to match or surpass the country's best-ever performance at the tournament — a second place finish in 2000 followed by a third- place finish in 2013 — Head Coach Janet Guy believed the girls gave a good account of themselves.

New Zealand were crowned champions of the tournament, which was the first international event to be hosted on the African continent by International Netball Federation (INF).

The Kiwis outscored Australia 60-57 in an exciting finale, which fittingly brought the curtains down on nine days of fantastic netball action. England took the bronze medal with a 70-35 win over Fiji.

“It was a good win and I am so proud of the ladies. we wanted to finish in the top four but it didn't happen. but we didn't drop our shoulders, we went out and we finished on a high. So kudos to the girls; we have some outstanding players on the team, but it was all teamwork and they went out and got the job done,” Guy said in a post-game interview.

Although lauding every member of the team for a good showing, Guy heaped special praises on two in particular — Nelson and goal defence Latanya Wilson.

“They are great players and they have a lot of future ahead of them….I mean there are others but those two really stood out. I called her my hunter, especially my goal defence and she really went out there and fought hard. But all the players did well and I am not taking away anything from them with teamwork they pushed out to the end,” she noted

The Jamaicans' medal-winning exploit ended at the quarter-final where they lost 38-55 to England, after earlier advancing from the group stages ahead of the host with a slightly better goal average, following a series of mix results.

They opened with a narrow two-goal 43-41 win over Cook Islands, but produced a more convincing display against Malaysia with a 70-22 scoreline. However, they later slumped to a 46-48 defeat at the hands of the host nation and were made to sweat after a 44-39 win over Uganda.

The young Sunshine Girls held a big deficit in the early stages of the final contest against Uganda, but a lapse in concentration resulted in the game being closer than was expected and almost cost them a spot in the quarter-final.

Looking ahead, the experienced campaigner pointed to a four-year plan in keeping the current crop of players together to make the transition to the senior level at the appointed time.

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