Gaynstead, Denbigh take all-island crowns
Gaynstead and Denbigh were crowned ISSA All-Island junior and senior champions after victories over Holmwood and Excelsior in the finals at the Leila Robinson Court yesterday.
In the junior final, Urban champions Gaynstead captured their first All-Island title after getting by former champions Holmwood 25-21, while rural champions Denbigh squeezed a one-point win over urban champions Excelsior, beating them 34-33.
In the Holmwood-Gaynstead clash, both teams looked very nervous as they were guilty of numerous turnovers, with the score tied 7-7 after the first quarter.
With goal shooter Britney Logan and goal attack Kelsey Jonas finding their rhythm, it was the Dalton Hinds-coached Gaynstead that took the initiative at the start of the second quarter, leading 14 -11 at the break.
Despite getting several chances to get on even terms, the Holmwood players continued to struggle in possession, with Gaynstead's goal-defence, Latanya Wilson, who was later named Most Valuable Player, putting in a commanding shift.
In the end, it was an easy win for Gaynstead as they made up for last year's disappointment losing to Denbigh at this stage.
Goal-shooter Britney Logan top-scored for Gaynstead with 16 points from 17 attempts, while goal-attack Kelsey Jonas assisted with 15 from 20. For Holmwood, goal-shooter Shadine Bartley top-scored with 12 from 15, and goal-attack Shanice McKenley 9 from 16.
EXCELSIOR PUMPED UP
After capturing their first-ever urban senior title, it was a pumped-up Excelsior team that came out blazing against an experienced Denbigh team, jumping to a quick 4-0 lead in the first three minutes, led by perfect shooting from goal shooter Kimberly Hudson.
However, the Denbigh team settled early and scored five quick unanswered goals, and for the remainder of the quarter, it was a back-and-forth battle as both teams traded points, with Excelsior eventually taking the quarter 10-8.
It was the same story for most of the second quarter, but in the latter stage, Denbigh took control through goal-shooter Moya Manning, wing-defence Chrisann Thompson, and wing-attack Nicole Lewis, who combined well throughout.
The arrival of Member of Parliament Mike Henry at the start of the third quarter seemed to have spurred on the Denbigh team, which pushed their advantage, leading 27-21 at the end of the third quarter.
Denbigh continued to pile on the pressure early in the fourth quarter and looked like scoring a runaway victory. However, Excelsior rallied strongly to cut into the lead before drawing level 33-33 with less than a minute to go.
With them having the centre pass, they looked to pull off an unlikely win, but instead, turned over the ball, and Denbigh took the opportunity to score a narrow one-goal win and regain their title last won in 2002.
Goal shooter Manning top-scored for the champions with 25 from 29, while goal-attack Cohen scored 9 from 14.
For Excelsior, it was goal-shooter Hudson, with 17 from 22, and goal-attack Quannia Walker, with 16 from 21, leading their efforts. Manning was named MVP.