Jamaica's Sterling-Humphrey et al on the losing end of two thrilling Suncorp Super Netball encounters

By Sports Desk April 20, 2024
Jamaican Shamera Sterling-Humphrey (GK) defends against Melbourne Vixens. Jamaican Shamera Sterling-Humphrey (GK) defends against Melbourne Vixens. (Photos: Getty Images)

Despite spirited efforts, Jamaica’s players Latanya Wilson, Shamera Sterling-Humphrey, Romelda Aiken-George and Jodi-Ann Ward were on the losing end in second round action of the Suncorp Super Netball League at John Cain Arena, on Saturday.

Aiken-George scored 28 goals from 30 attempts, while Wilson and Sterling-Humphrey were resolute in defence, but it wasn’t enough to stop Adelaide Thunderbirds going down 53-54 to Melbourne Vixens in a nail-biting encounter.

Georgie Horjus, with 16 goals from 17 attempts was the next best scorer for the Thunderbirds, while Keira Austin (31 goals from 33 attempts) and Sophie Garbin (23 goals from 24 attempts) got the job done for the Vixens.

It was an intense battle from the opening whistle, with both teams gunning for their second win of the season. The Adelaide Thunderbirds’ defence caused havoc for the Vixens, as Wilson forced the first turnover of the match with her quick closing speed. Alongside compatriot Sterling-Humphrey, the defensive duo brought immense pressure early into the Vixens’ attacking front. 

However, Austin signalled fearlessness to take aim from anywhere, as she scored two consecutive super shots to put Vixens 14-11 up at the end of the first quarter.

Thunderbirds used the full prowess of their bench in the second quarter, with wing attack Laura Scherian and goal attack Horjus adding impetus to their charge, but the Vixens kept their noses in front at 27-25 at the half-time break. 

Both sides showed more urgency in the third quarter where they matched each other goal-for-goal, before the electrifying Sterling-Humphrey made some crucial interceptions that saw Thunderbirds opening a three-goal lead at 34-34. But a string of super shots off the hot hands of Garbin and Austin, ensured the teams headed into the final quarter locked at 40-40.

From there, the Vixens displayed their clinical experience to not only surge ahead, but also expertly ran down the clock before handing off the ball to Austin who sunk the winning goal in the final seconds of the hard-fought match.

Meanwhile, Ward and her GIANTS team suffered a 62-65 loss to Queensland Firebirds in another thrilling contest at Ken Rosewall Arena.

Donnell Wallam, with 55 goals from 60 attempts, and Tippah Dwan, with 10 goals from 12 attempts, led the way for the Firebirds. GIANTS got their goals from Jo Harten (33 goals from 35 attempts) and Sophie Dwyer (29 goals from 29 attempts).

From the opening whistle, the Firebirds displayed masterful finesse, leaving the GIANTS struggling to keep pace with their savvy and patient play. Firebirds came out firing on all cylinders, as Wallam's prolific scoring spree put them firmly in control 21-11 at the end of the first quarter.

Ward came out worse in a collision with Lara Dunkley, which caused more problems for the GIANTS as they struggled to regain their stride in the match.

Though the GIANTS clawed their way back with the introduction of Sam Winders into the fray, they were still four goals down at 36-32 at half-time.

However, a fired-up GIANTS took the game to the Firebirds, some crucial defensive efforts from Winders and Ward brought the team to life with flashes of brilliance, but consistency eluded them and, as such, Firebirds, ended the third quarter seven points ahead at 51-44.

Despite the GIANTS' resilience and Ward's pivotal turnover and subsequent conversion by Harten, the Firebirds remained composed under pressure and secured their maiden triumph in the 2024 campaign.

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    Jamaican defender Latanya Wilson, produced a Player of the Match performance in her 50th national league game to assist Adelaide Thunderbirds to a comfortable 58-33 win over New South Wales Swifts in a lopsided affair at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Saturday.

    The contest, which was a repeat of last year’s grand final, was expected to be just a fierce, but Wilson and her Thunderbirds teammates were in a no-nonsense mood, as they won all but one quarter of the encounter to bounce back from last week's nail-biting one-goal loss to West Coast Fever.

    Wilson, 23, notched up 118.5 Nissan Net Points thanks to four intercepts, seven deflections and nine pick-ups in a performance that matches her milestone.

    “It feels so amazing. What a milestone. It is such a great feeling and I am so happy we got the win. We are evolving and we are hunting something new, whatever that looks like, I am so happy that I am a part of this great team,” a beaming Wilson said in a post-game interview.

    While the wing defence did her part along with compatriot and goalkeeper Shamera Sterling-Humphrey, who had five deflections and three intercepts, another Jamaican Romelda Aiken-George led the Thunderbirds attack with 30 goals from 32 attempts.

    Lucy Austin (12 goals from 12 attempts), Georgie Horjus (nine goals from 10 attempts), and Lauren Frew (seven goals from nine attempts), contributed the others.

    Wilson was on song in the Thunderbirds defence.

    Meanwhile, the Swifts, who were off beat all-around, got most goals from Sophie Fawns (16 goals from 19 attempts). Helen Housby (10 goals from 14 attempts), Trinidad and Tobago’s Samantha Wallace-Joseph (five goals from seven attempts) and Grace Whyte (two goals from four attempts), got the others.

    Aside from the opening quarter in which they came out strong and secured a 13-12 lead over the Thunderbirds, the Swifts struggled to maintain momentum throughout.

    In fact, they made a number of errors in the second quarter that shifted things in favour of the Thunderbirds, who capitalised and won the quarter 11-7 to overtake the lead at 23-20 at the half-time interval.

    Wallace-Joseph finally entered the court for the Swifts to start the third quarter which meant Housby moved back into her preferred position of goal attack, but the move proved futile.

    While both teams made some uncharacteristic errors, the Thunderbirds recovered best and later asserted their authority on the contest in what turned out to be a match-winning third quarter.

    Sterling-Humphrey made her presence felt and picked up a flying intercept, after which, Wilson took the mantle to shut out the Swifts, as they ended the quarter 13 goals up at 41-28.

    Faced with the huge deficit, it was crucial for the Swifts to come out firing in the fourth quarter - and they did for the most part, but another intercept from Sterling-Humphrey prevented them from scoring.

    From there, the Swifts racked up penalties and turnovers, while missing six of their 11 attempts, as Thunderbirds effortlessly took the quarter 17-5 to complete the 25-goal rout.

  • A ray of sunshine: Caribbean players light up Round six of Suncorp Super Netball League A ray of sunshine: Caribbean players light up Round six of Suncorp Super Netball League

    The Suncorp Super Netball league has no shortage of international superstars, but the clash between the West Coast Fever and Adelaide Thunderbirds well and truly showcased the Jamaican excellence the competition hosts.

    With six Jamaican Sunshine Girls split evenly between the two teams, the battle was fierce and full of flair, as it eventually ended 57-56 in favour of the Fever.

    Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard is no easybeat, and with the likes of Shanice Beckford serving her the ball on a silver platter, the Fever had no issue with scoring.

    However, Shamera Sterling-Humphrey and Latanya Wilson would not let it all go the Fever’s way, picking off deflections left, right and centre.

    At the other end, Romelda Aiken-George and Kadie-Ann Dehaney went head-to-head in another enormous battle, which well and truly highlighted the impressive agility and elevation of the Jamaican superstars.

    All close friends off the court, the six players united after the match for a brilliant Jamaican team moment, sharing a dance for the remaining crowd.

    Shimona Jok (left) was one of many high-performing Jamaicans this week.

    Elsewhere, Jamaican Shimona Jok won the player of the match award for her impressive 50-goal game in the Maverick’s 69-62 win against the Firebirds, while another Jamaican Jodi-Ann Ward worked in overdrive in the Sydney derby. However, her GIANTS team went down 52-76 to New South Wales Swift, led by Trinidad and Tobago’s Samantha Wallace-Joseph.

    After another week of intense battles, it comes as no surprise that Fowler-Nembhard remains atop the Nissan Net Points leaderboard with 690.5 points to her name, with Sterling-Humphrey (539.5 points) fourth on that list.

    With 355 goals to her name from 363 attempts, Fowler-Nembhard has scored over 100 goals more than Donnell Wallam (253 goals from 297 attempts), who sits second on both the goals and attempts leaderboard, while Aiken-George (214 goals from 245 attempts) occupies fourth on the attempts chart and fifth on the goals side.