Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Despite a brilliant third-quarter performance, Jamaica's young Sunshine Girls came up short in their quest to secure a place in this year's World Youth Netball Championships final. They were beaten 53-44 by New Zealand in the semi-finals in Glasgow, Scotland, yesterday.
The Oberon Pitterson-Nattie-coached girls started the match strong but trailed their opponents 15-13 at the end of the first period. The junior Sunshine Girls netted two quick goals at the start of the second period to tie the game at 16-16.
However, New Zealand went on to dominate the remainder of the second quarter by outscoring Jamaica 15-3 to take a 31-19 at the end of the period.
The Jamaicans came out firing on all cylinders in the third stanza, as shooters Shanice Beckford and Thristina Harwood, who replaced an injured Shantal Slater, combined to score 19 goals compared to their opponents' six goals.
Jamaica's defensive pair of captain Vangelee Williams and Shamera Sterling was also excellent. Their tight defence and close marking resulted in a number of turnovers by their opponents as they rallied to take a 38-37 lead at the end of the period.
The junior Sunshine Girls failed to maintain their dominance in the fourth period as poor defending and a number of turnovers allowed New Zealand to regain the advantage.
Beckford was the leading scorer for Jamaica with 20 goals from 23 attempts. She received good support from Harwood, who shot 17 from 25 and Slater, seven from eight.
"We struggled to get the ball into the shooters in the last quarter," said Pitterson-Nattie. "I thought our timing was a bit off. New Zealand kept getting the deflections and the calls just weren't going our way."
The young Sunshine Girls will now oppose England in the bronze medal game tomorrow while New Zealand will battle defending champions Australia in the gold medal match also on the same day.