Netball

Excelsior are AFNA High School netball champions

By Dwayne Richards
Observer writer

Monday, July 23, 2018

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Excelsior High crowned themselves high school netball champions of the Caribbean on Saturday when they defeated rivals Holmwood Technical 46-27, in the all-Jamaican final of the AFNA Champion of Champions High School Netball Tournament played at the Leila Robinson Courts in Kingston, Jamaica.

The third-place play-off, which was an all-Barbados affair, preceded the final and saw Christ Church Foundation defeating Springer Memorial 31-26 in an engaging encounter.

The all-Jamaican final was always on the cards and the organisers would have been happy to have their dream final in the inaugural staging of the tournament.

The game got going in front of a full house and while Excelsior seemed to feed off the energy of a largely partisan crowd which included members of their Manning Cup football team, Holmwood seemed overwhelmed by the large crowd and simply never came to life, especially on offence.

Led by national representative Hasana Williams as goal attack and new star Racoya Douglas as goal shooter, the Mountain View Avenue-based school wasted no time in taking control of the match and were comfortably ahead 13-4 at the end of the first quarter.

While the pair of Shadine Bartley and Shoshagaye Forbes sputtered to life in the second quarter to double their first- quarter output at eight goals, Excelsior maintained their aggressive play, scoring 12 more goals in the period for a comfortable half-time lead at 25-12.

With the effects of the week- long tournament under very hot conditions taking a toll on both teams, the scoring lessened in the second half as Excelsior won the third quarter 11-6 before closing out the win to claim the gold medal with a fourth-quarter effort of 10 goals compared to Holmwood's nine goals.

Hasana Williams, who stepped up her goal tally as the competition wore on, was the leading scorer in the final with 28 goals from 40 attempts, while her teammate Racoya Douglas had 17 of 29. Shadine Bartley was the high scorer for Holmwood with 24 of 42.

Excelsior High head coach Chris Smart was surprised at the ease of victory, but expected to win.

“I didn't expect to win the game by this large a margin. I said it from day one that this Excelsior team is at least 50 per cent better than the team that played in the ISSA All-Island tournament last season, and it showed by the margin of victory.”

Holmwood Technical head coach Carline Graham-Powell admitted that her girls had a case of stage fright.

“Definitely the crowd got to them. We came here as the underdogs; most of the crowd had Excelsior's back. Not many persons are aware of Holmwood Technical as a netball powerhouse so the girls were a bit nervous and allowed it to get to them, so they did not play the game that we expected.”

In the third-place game Springer Memorial let slip a great opportunity to get one over on their main rivals in Barbados — Christ Church Foundation. There was no separating the teams up to half-time though, as they were tied 9-9 and 14-14 after the first two quarters.

Christ Church seemed to hit a wall in the third quarter as Springer gained the ascendancy to take a 22-18 lead with just one quarter to go. But while the girls in black and yellow found their legs in the fourth quarter, Springer went stone cold. Springer were in charge at 26-21 when their offence went dead, while Brianna Holder and her captain Stephian Shephard revived the Barbadian champions who went on a 10-0 run to win 31-26.

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