Jamaican trio continue to soar with Thunderbirds as Ward also inspires GIANTS to first win

By Sports Desk May 11, 2024
Jamaica's Shamera Sterling-Humphrey of Adelaide Thunderbirds leaps above compatriot Shimona Jok of Melbourne Mavericks. Jamaica's Shamera Sterling-Humphrey of Adelaide Thunderbirds leaps above compatriot Shimona Jok of Melbourne Mavericks. (Photos: Getty Images)

Jamaica’s Romelda Aiken-George, Shamera Sterling-Humphrey and Latanya Wilson continued winning ways in the Suncorp Super Netball League, as their Adelaide Thunderbirds team downed Melbourne Mavericks 59-37 in a lopsided affair at the John Cain Arena, on Saturday.

Aiken-George again led the way with 32 goals from 34 attempts, with support from Lucy Austin, who had 14 goals from 16 attempts, and Lauren Frew (nine goals from 13 attempts), while Georgie Horjus scored the other four goals from six attempts.

Another Jamaican Shimona Jok topscored for the Mavericks with 16 goals from 19 attempts, while Gabrielle Sinclair had 16 goals from 14 attempts, including five two-point Super shots, and Natalie Butler had five goals from seven attempts.

It was another clinical performance by the Thunderbirds, who produced four strong quarters to bring the Mavericks down to earth from the high of their historic win last week. Both teams were shaky at the start, before the Thunderbirds settled with three goals in a row.

From there, it was end-to-end action until the Thunderbirds regained the ascendancy thanks to crucial intercepts by Wilson on the Mavericks centre pass, which allowed her team to open a five-goal lead at 16-11 to end the first quarter.

The back-and-forth of possession between the two teams continued in the second quarter, but the Thunderbirds remained in control and opened a 10-goal lead at one point, which forced the Mavericks to go for the two-point Super shots. However, stellar defending from Sterling-Humphrey and company ensured the Thunderbirds maintained control at 32-18 at the half-time break.

Jamaica's Latanya Wilson of Adelaide Thunderbirds rise highest to win possession.

The one-way traffic continued in favour of the Thunderbirds on the resumption, as Mavericks struggled to penetrate their shooting circle, while the speed and connection between Laura Scherian and Aiken-George made life difficult for the opponents defence.

At the end of it all, the Thunderbirds increased their advantage to 20-goals, as they wrapped up the third quarter at 47-27.

The Mavericks produced their strongest showing of the game in the final quarter, as they looked stronger and more connected, but it was a case of too little too late just too late for Jok and company, who succumbed to a 22-goal defeat.

Meanwhile, another Jamaican Jodi-Ann Ward and her GIANTS team got their first points of the campaign on the board following a nail-biting 86-80 extra-time win over Sunshine Coast Lightning, at the Ken Rosewall Arena.

Sophie Dwyer (39 goals from 38 attempts) and Jo Harten (35 goals from 35 attempts) were in good knick on the day for GIANTS, who had their other goals from Matisse Letherbarrow (12 goals from 12 attempts), the game-changer during extra-time.

Cara Koenen led the Lightning with 45 goals from 47 attempts, with support from Reilley Batcheldor (17 goals from 20 attempts) and Steph Fretwell (18 goals from 23 attempts).

It was a contest filled with twists and turns as both sides traded blows in the opening minutes. Yet, amidst the tit-for-tat scoring, it was the GIANTS that exuded confidence, demonstrating rapid ball movement and unyielding defensive intensity courtesy of Chelsea Pitman and Ward, who disrupted Lightning’s play from their centre pass.

Jamaican Jodi-Ann Ward embraces a GIANTS teammate after their first win of the season.

Ward was a bundle of energy for the GIANTS, working overtime in defence to support the team on both sides of the ball, but the teams ended the first quarter locked at 17-17.

Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer turned it on in the Power Five time, executing an important Super Shot each. Yet, it was Steph Fretwell's clutch conversion that leveled the scores as the teams approached the first change.

The second quarter intensified in physicality as the Lightning aimed to maintain their momentum from the opening quarter. However, a pivotal turnover by Pitman allowed GIANTS to surge ahead to a five-goal lead before the onset of the Power Five period.

But the Lightning’s superb center pass conversion rate and execution in the circle led by Koenen saw them rally, but the GIANTS held a one-goal lead 37-36 at half-time.

The GIANTS kicked off the third quarter with gusto, extending their lead by four goals within the opening minutes. Harten asserted her dominance on the game, dazzling with a series of spectacular goals to ignite the GIANTS' momentum.

Still the Lightning were resolute and kept pace with their rivals to remain one goal behind at 55-54 and set up a stirring final quarter battle which eventually ended at 71-71 to send the game into extra-time.

Letherbarrow was summoned from the bench, and she delivered a relentless barrage of Super Shots, ultimately spearheading the GIANTS' comeback victory over the Lightning, who lacked composure in the latter stages of the game.

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