Fourth-quarter blowout - Sunshine Girls light up NISC with late surge to clinch series
Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica's Sunshine Girls turned in a brilliant fourth-quarter performance to whip rivals England 57-47 in their deciding game of the three-Test Supreme Ventures Sunshine Series last night at the National Indoor Sports Centre (NISC).
The Sunshine Girls clinched the series 2-1.
It was also sweet revenge for the Jamaicans, who were thrashed 3-0 by the English Roses last year in England.
Jhaniele Fowler led way for the Sunshine Girls with 28 goals from 34 attempts. She received support from Romelda Aiken, 15 from 19, and Shanice Beckford, 14 from 20.
Jo Harten, 35 from 38, Pamela Cookey, 10 from 15, and Sasha Corbin, two from three, were the scorers for England.
Jamaica's head coach, Minneth Reynolds, was very happy for the series victory.
"I think my girls played excellently in all quarters," said Reynolds.
"It took a team effort from everyone because they fought gallantly throughout the match," she said.
England's coach, Anna Mayes, said: "We knew it was going to be close, but I think we didn't respond when the Sunshine Girls came at us in the fourth quarter."
Jamaica won the opening match 56-47, but England came back to capture Game Two 55-47 and tie the series.
The Sunshine Girls had the packed NISC rocking early in the first quarter as they took a 13-9 lead with two minutes to go. The lanky Aiken dominated the English defenders by scoring 11 goals, as they finished the quarter with a 14-12 lead.
The Jamaican defensive unit, led by captain Nicole Aiken, Stacian Facey and Vangelee Williams, played well for the hosts, as they made a number of interceptions while marking the English very closely.
The Sunshine Girls' livewire goal attack, Shanice Beckford, starred in the second quarter as she combined well with Aiken when the team fought back from three goals down to tie the game 24-24 at half-time. England's shooter Harten had an outstanding first half, scoring 20 of her team's 24 goals.
The determined-looking Sunshine Girls played strongly in the third period as they challenged their opponents on every possession. Fowler, who replaced Aiken at the start of the third stanza, scored 10 of the 13 goals as quarter ended with a 37-37 tie.
The fans in the NISC were jumping and screaming as the Sunshine Girls came out firing on all cylinders in the fourth quarter, as Fowler netted four straight goals to give them a 41-37 lead with 10 minutes to go. The Sunshine Girls mesmerised the English players with their speed and pulled away for a convincing win.
Both sides were using the series as part of the preparation for this year's World Netball Championships, which will be held in Sydney, Australia, in August. Interestingly, both teams are drawn in the same group at the tournament.