Holmwood, Denbigh queens of the court
Defending champions outlast rivals to retain rural netball crowns
Raymond Graham, Gleaner Writer
ONE year later and nothing has changed. Both defending champions ruled supreme in the finals of the ISSA rural competition at Manchester High yesterday, as Denbigh High and Holmwood Technical retained their titles with comfortable winning margins.
Denbigh beat home team Manchester High 35-27 to claim back-to-back wins in the junior competition, while Holmwood made it title number nine after a surprisingly easy 36-29 win in the Senior championship match over Denbigh High, who were suffering their first defeat of the season.
In the senior final, the score was level 9-9 at the break. But, like true champions, Holmwood took control of the game early in the second quarter and never relinquished it for the remainder of the game, as they led 18-15, 28-21 at the end of the second and third quarters, respectively, before easing away for a comfortable win and their ninth title in 10 years.
Tracy-Ann Francis led the scoring for the champions with 35 goals from 43 attempts, while Sanique Stewart, with 26 goals from 39 attempts, was Denbigh's top scorer.
Coach Carline Graham-Powell was very pleased with her team.
"This was a very good one today, and when you are a champion you have faith and you have to be positive, and we always put God first, so good things will happen. Our team is not that experienced, but being champions over the years, it is like a routine and we practised the same things that have made us successful," said Graham-Powell.
Denbigh's coach, Janice Hansel-Walker, was disappointed.
"I do not know what went wrong today, as the girls worked hard and were very confident coming into the game, but they were a bit flat. They had early turnovers and became flustered, and this affected them.
"But congratulations to Holmwood; they really played well and deserved the win," said Hansel-Walker.
The coach was beaming earlier, following Denbigh's success in the junior final. They led 8-7 at the first quarter, were tied 15-15 at the half, led 23-21 after three quarters, then blew away Manchester in the last quarter.
"We were always confident of victory, as the girls have worked hard all season and we didn't let the issue about playing on their court affect them, as they have been scoring at a high rate all season and this is not the first we are playing them here, as they have one of the best courts in the region," explained Hansel-Walker.
Both winners advanced to the all-island finals slated for St Andrew High on Friday. They will play the winners of today's urban finals, which will also be played at St Andrew High.