Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard's record scoring leads West Coast Fever to victory over NSW Swifts

By Sports Desk June 16, 2024

West Coast Fever star Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard delivered a record-breaking performance on Sunday, scoring 73 goals to lead her team to a 78-71 victory over the New South Wales Swifts in the Suncorp Super Netball League.

The win, witnessed by a home and away record crowd of 11,267, secured Fever's second spot on the Super Netball table.

The match came on the heels of a tumultuous week for the Swifts, who announced the release of Trinidadian star Samantha Wallace-Joseph on Friday due to "behavior concerns." The loss of Wallace-Joseph, a key player for the Swifts, left the team struggling to adjust their gameplay and maintain cohesion on the court.

Despite the Swifts' impressive tally of 18 supershots to Fever’s one, they were outplayed from the beginning.

 Swifts co-captain Maddy Proud admitted the controversy surrounding Wallace-Joseph had taken a toll on the team. "While it has only come out this week, we have had to deal with it for probably a month. There was a little bit of a relief in a way that all that speculation now has a conclusion," she said following the loss. "It would be silly to say that it hasn’t affected the group. We are a very tight-knit group and we had played with Sammy for eight years. We won two premierships with her and have been through a lot."

The Swifts, still adjusting to playing without a holding shooter like Wallace-Joseph, faced early challenges in feeding a moving circle. This led to moments of confusion between Helen Housby and youngster Sophie Fawns, resulting in both players moving into the same space.

The Fever capitalized on the Swifts' ball-handling errors in the second term, extending their lead to 14 points heading into the third term's power five. Although Fawns managed a flurry of supershots, hitting 11 out of 14 two-point goals, it wasn't enough to close the gap.

Fowler-Nembhard's exceptional aerial prowess earned her MVP honours for the match. Her performance not only secured a vital win for the Fever but also highlighted her as a continued formidable force in the league.

The Fever's victory reinforces their strong position in the league, while the Swifts will need to regroup and adapt quickly to their new team dynamics as they navigate the rest of the season without Wallace-Joseph.

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  • ‘She’s the greatest’: Fever’s coach Ryan praises Jamaican superstar Fowler-Nembhard ‘She’s the greatest’: Fever’s coach Ryan praises Jamaican superstar Fowler-Nembhard

    Dan Ryan has never been shy about his admiration for Jamaican Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard and so it comes as no surprise that the West Coach Fever head coach believes the towering goal shooter is the best to ever grace that position in netball history.

    Fowler-Nembhard celebrated her 35th birthday by putting on yet another shooting masterclass in the Fever’s Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) League minor semi-final victory over Sunshine Coast Lightning at the RAC Arena in Perth on Sunday.

    The five-time league MVP scored 67 goals from 69 attempts—the two missed chances being late Super Shot attempts—as the Fever downed the Sunshine Coast Lightning 72-62 to book a preliminary final date with Melbourne Vixens. 

    On the back of that performance, Fowler-Nembhard extended her lead atop the Nissan Net Points (1704.5) standings as well as the goals scored ladder, shooting her 880 goals with 96% accuracy.

    For Ryan, the Perth-based franchise could not have asked for a better first-choice goal shooter.

    “She’s the greatest goal shooter our game has ever seen,” Ryan declared. 

    “Because she has such high standards every single weekend, everyone has such incredibly high standards for her.  We’re so grateful that she’s in our team, and we have a real priority to ensure we get the best out of Jhaniele, with who sits in front of her,” he added.

    Beyond her scoring abilities, Ryan also praised Fowler-Nembhard’s leadership skills, which he pointed out often come to the fore when her compatriot and goal attack Shanice Beckford has an off-game. 

    “She’s been an incredible leader. The way she’s leading that front line, she’s happy to take a 2v1 if she needs to, and she’s backing in Shanice when she needs to. We’re seeing mum mode from Jhaniele out there, and we absolutely love it,” Ryan noted.

    Shanice Beckford

    Fowler-Nembhard’s perfect first half performance kept the Fever in touch with the Lightning, 16-18 at the end of the first quarter, before the 2022 champions put the foot down in the second half to keep their premiership hopes alive. 

    They outscored the Lightning 36-27 after the main break, had nine gains—eight of which they converted to goals—and five defensive rebounds to put an end to the Lightning’s season.

    The performance was much to the delight of Ryan, who believes the manner in which his team upped their tempo in the second half augurs well going into their next encounter.

    “We’ve been tracking really nicely over the last month and playing some great netball. We knew we were in a good spot heading into Sunday’s game, and we really wanted to make sure we found an extra gear,” Ryan reasoned.

    “The first half was a real grind and a real challenge, and we were certainly under the pump. I am really proud of the girls for the way they stuck at their jobs, and when the moments popped up in that second half, we took them. To win by ten in a do-or-die semi-final is an amazing result.” he shared.

    The Fever’s renewed form in winning their last four encounters, comes at the right time, following a mid-season wobble that saw them slip from the top of the standings into third place at the end of regular season play.

    Those off colour mid-season games, Ryan said, have served as motivation for his side, which is now aiming to possibly carry their rich vein of form all the way to the grand final against reigning champions Adelaide Thunderbirds.

    But first, West Coast Fever will have to get past the Vixens on their return to John Cain Arena this Saturday. 

    “Our team has been on a really important journey across the season, and we always connect back to the mid part of the season where we went win-loss-win-loss for a while,” Ryan stated. 

    “The learnings we were getting out of those moments were invaluable, and we’ve got great confidence now in these pressure games. We’re really grateful for another opportunity to play netball under finals pressure; we know we’re in great form and we’re going to be really hard to beat at our best,” he ended.

     

  • Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard dominates as West Coast Fever defeat Sunshine Coast Lightning in thrilling preliminary final Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard dominates as West Coast Fever defeat Sunshine Coast Lightning in thrilling preliminary final

    Jamaican netball star Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard showcased her immense talent and composure, scoring an astonishing 67 goals in the Suncorp Super Netball preliminary final on Sunday. Fowler-Nembhard's brilliance guided the Fever to a hard-fought 72-62 victory over the Sunshine Coast Lightning. They will now face off against the Melbourne Vixens for a chance to face defending champion Adelaide Thunderbirds in the grand final.

    In a match marked by dramatic momentum shifts, the Fever had to dig deep to withstand the Lightning's persistent challenges. It wasn't until late in the third quarter that the Fever managed to establish a decisive lead, ultimately securing their place in the next round.

    The game began with the Lightning in control, as the connections between Steph Fretwell, Liz Watson, and Leesa Mi Mi effortlessly cut through the Fever’s defense. In response, the Fever introduced the speed of Kelsey Browne to their midcourt, but the Lightning's fluid play maintained a three-point advantage until a crucial super shot from Shanice Beckford leveled the score and electrified the crowd.

    Fever shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard then took center stage, dominating her matchup against Courtney Bruce and forcing Lightning coach Belinda Reynolds to make tactical adjustments. Despite these changes, Fowler-Nembhard remained unstoppable, finishing with an incredible 67 goals from 69 attempts and earning MVP honors for her performance.

    The match's intensity took its toll on the Lightning, who had been regarded as pre-season premiership favorites due to their impressive recruiting. Although Watson led all players with 58 feeds, Fretwell struggled with accuracy, which dropped to just 61 percent. The Fever capitalized on this, converting 81 percent of their center passes and 40 percent of their missed goals, compared to the Lightning's dismal nine percent conversion rate.

    Despite the defeat, the Lightning's four young rookies gained valuable experience and are expected to be formidable competitors next season. The Fever, meanwhile, will head east for next weekend’s preliminary final against the wounded Vixens, who suffered a stunning 25-point defeat to the Adelaide Thunderbirds on Saturday.

    The Fever's consistency in Super Netball has seen them reach the finals in six of the last seven years, but they have struggled to convert these opportunities into championships, having won the premiership only once in 2022. However, with three wins in their last four matches and the Vixens losing three in the same period, the Fever will approach the preliminary final with confidence.

    If they can secure a victory against the Vixens, the Fever will face off in the grand final against the Adelaide Thunderbirds, who handed them a comprehensive 18-point defeat the last time they met. With Fowler-Nembhard in top form, the Fever are poised to make a serious bid for the championship.

     

     

     

  • Defensive dynamo: Roxanna McLean eyes continued growth after standout performances at Americas Netball World Youth Cup Qualifiers Defensive dynamo: Roxanna McLean eyes continued growth after standout performances at Americas Netball World Youth Cup Qualifiers

    In every tournament, there is always that one individual that sticks out among their peers. Not in a negative way, like the proverbial sore thumb, but because of their skillful plays and standout performances.

    Jamaica's Roxanna McLean is one such individual who excelled among her peers, as her name echoed with every game in which she served as a defensive pillar at the recently-concluded Americas Netball World Youth Cup qualifiers in Guadeloupe.

    Not only did the 20-year-old defender and captain lead Jamaica to victory in the Under-21 tournament, but she also earned the prestigious titles of Best Defender and Player of the Tournament, which solidified her status as a rising star in netball. 

    While the accolades were a testament to her hard work, dedication, and the impact she had throughout the tournament, McLean attributed the success to her coaches—Phyllis Thompson and Nicole Aiken-Pinnock—and teammates.

    “I’m incredibly honoured to receive these awards, which are just a testament to our hard work. Every time I go out there on court, I ensure to stay disciplined but hungry to get as many tips, gains, or intercepts as possible,” a beaming McLean told SportsMax.TV.

    “But these awards are not just mine; they belong to the entire team because it has been a challenging journey, but with the support of my teammates and coaches, we achieved something special,” she added.

    That special something for McLean, who had a stint with the senior Sunshine Girls against England Roses last year, is the fact that they entered the tournament with high hopes and a determination to secure their place in next year’s Netball World Youth Cup in Gibraltar, and they achieved it.

    Guided by strategic gameplay and team cohesion, the young Sunshine Girls navigated the qualifiers with poise and precision as they went unbeaten throughout, with crucial 40-33 and 54-29 victories coming against Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados in the semi-final and final, a feat that McLean believes underscored their dominance in the region.

     “Qualifying for the World Youth Cup is a big accomplishment for all of us. We worked incredibly hard going into tournament, which basically prepared us mentally and physically for the challenges that we faced from teams like Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados. We now have the opportunity to represent our country on the world stage, which is an even bigger honour,” McLean, who found her passion for netball at Denbigh High school, shared. 

    Still, the bubbly player, who possesses an exceptional ability to read the game, knows all too well that the young Sunshine Girls’ defensive strategy and attacking plays were not all that polished. As such, McLean’s focus is already on continuous improvement with hopes of achieving greater feats.

    In fact, though her personal accolades are motivation, the Moneague College student declared that the ultimate goal remains the success of her team.

    “One of my biggest goals right now is to really hone my skills. There is a lot of room for improvement in my game and a lot more for me to learn, so that is my main focus going forward, as I always want to be at my best to make my coaches teammates and country proud,” McLean stated.

    “So, I will definitely be putting in a lot of hard work, both individually and with the team, at our training sessions. Because we have a lot of work to do before Gibraltar, so we will continue to train hard and develop our game, and we have two of the best coaches with us to see to that. So I’m excited for what’s to come,” she ended.

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