Raymond Graham, Gleaner Writer
HOLMWOOD Technical and Denbigh High ruled supreme in the finals of the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association ISSA/Digicel rural schoolgirls netball competition at Clarendon Park, by capturing the respective senior and junior titles.
Holmwood overcame Denbigh High 37-34 for their eighth title in nine years, while Denbigh got the better of Knox College 19-16 in the junior showdown.
It was a thrilling affair in the senior encounter, which came down to the final quarter. Holmwood led in commanding fashion over the first two quarters, 14-6 and 21-13, in what appeared to be a blowout. However, Denbigh came storming back in the third quarter, with lanky goal shooter Shaneika Watson bang on target as they outscored their opponent 14-5 to take their first lead, 27-26. But Holmwood settled down in the final quarter as the experienced Nicole Dixon at goal attack marshalled her troups well and they established a three-point advantage. Holmwood goal shooter, Tracyann Francis, top-scored with 31 goals from 41 attempts, while Denbigh's Watson netted 29 of 37 tries.
"To God be the glory. He was behind this win today. At the third quarter break, I told the girls to stay focused because we are champions as they know how to win," said Holmwood c.oach Carlene Graham-Powell. She dedicated the win to Shakeira Muschette, the junior team's captain who died in a bus accident at the start of the season.
Losing coach Christine Bartley said: "I am disappointed, but grateful as after being down by a wide margin, the girls fought gallantly and I am very proud of them."
In the junior final, first-time finalists Knox looked a bit nervous, had several turnovers, and trailed Denbigh 4-6 at the end of the first quarter. Looking a bit more settled, Knox had a good second quarter as they outscored their opponents 5-2 to take a 9-8 lead at half-time.
In the third quarter, Knox's goal shooter Roshwana Gibbs was woefully off target and Denbigh took advantage to lead 14-13, before pulling away in the final stanza. Denbigh's goal shooter Moya Manning top-scored with 13 of 16 attempts, while Gibbs led Knox with 13 from 24.
The all-island finals will be played on Thursday with both rural champions taking on Corporate Area double winners, The Queen's School. Holmwood are the senior champions.