Bajan netballers score historic win against Jamaica
The Bajan Gems celebrate their win over Jamaica. (Photo: Barbados Netball Association)
Barbados stunned Jamaica with a 43-41 victory in the deciding third Test on Monday night at the National Arena to draw the best-of-three series 1-1.
It was the first win for Barbados over a Jamaica national team for more than three decades and coming against the world fourth-ranked, boosted their chances of gaining the ranking points needed to qualify for the Commonwealth Games next year.
The Bajan Gems had surprised Jamaica's Sunshine Girls with a 44-44 draw in the first match before Jamaica won the second 40-34 to set up the deciding final game.
Head coach of Jamaica's senior netball team Jermaine Allison-McCracken said, "I think the defence was so strong when they took a lot of knocks in that circle. The attack came together in moments. I had asked my shooters to shoot when they get the ball in the circle and they weren't doing that, they were doing a lot of passing around.
"Inexperience was definitely an issue. At this level, they need to be able to bring it for four quarters. But inexperience is only an experience until you have had the experience and this was their opportunity to step up. They did it for three quarters.
"It was very hard as I know some of these youngsters took some real knocks in the game. The Bajans were very physical but there are some things about the discipline that I would like to see my players to have and bring to the court, that I didn't see so I still need to drill some of that into them."
Barbados coach, Sandra Brooks-Small, was not afraid to agree that Barbados played a very physical game. However, Brooks-Small pointed out that there were reasons for the physical games.
She said, "Both teams played physical because the more you want it the more you are going to put your body on the line."
Brooks-Small said the Bajan Gems was very happy for the win as victory came against a highly-ranked team.
"To play the No. 4 team, we know it was always a big ask as it was almost unheard of for 12 to beat four. But after the first game and the way we played them and we were leading for a lot of it, we said to the girls that we can win this game and if we have that belief, we have to put everything out there on that court. Don't leave nothing because this is probably our best chance of beating Jamaica."
Netball - Jamaica vs Barbados
The match itself was a hard-fought encounter and was not of a high standard as both teams were involved in countless simple turnovers throughout the encounter.
While they defended well, for the most part, Jamaica's Sunshine Girls turned over the ball constantly with the game coming to a close. And with Barbados' goal shooter Shonica Wharton using her height and size advantage to sink goals regularly, the Sunshine Girls failed to hold on to the slim lead they had from the start of the match.
Jamaica led at the end of each quarter, with the first ending 11-8, the second 21-18 and the third 32-31. Thristina Harwood scored 19 from 22, Shimona Nelson had 13 from 14 and Rebekah Robinson, nine from 12.
Meanwhile, goal shoot Shonica Wharton led Barbados with 26 goals from 31 attempts. Goal attack Sheniqua Thomas supported with 14 from 17 and Latonia Blackman had three from four.