Jamalco overcome emotional Tivoli to win Lasco/Starlight Major League Netball title
Defending champions Jamalco used their experience to overcome an emotional Tivoli Gardens team to lift the Lasco iCool Water/Starlight Productions Major League netball title at the Leila Robinson Courts recently.
Still coming to grips with the death of club founder and former Prime Minister Edward Seaga, even whilst having the Minister of Sports Olivia Grange sitting in his chair, last year's losing finalists set about overcoming their rivals for the title.
Jamalco got off to a fast start but the determined Tivoli team was able to hang with them as the first quarter ended with Jamalco ahead 12-10.
The champions put their foot down in the second quarter, opening up a five-point gap at 21-16, but Tivoli refused to go away and went on a run of their own to close the gap as the half ended 26-23 to Jamalco.
Clearly energised by their first-half performance, Tivoli continued to press the champions and drew level at 31-31 midway the third quarter.
Realising that they were in a game, the Winston Nevers-coached team then stepped up their game and opened up a six-point gap to end the third quarter at 41-35.
Out of gas and with emotions taking a toll on them, Tivoli could find nothing else to offer in the fourth quarter as finals MVP and Sunshine Girl Anna Kay Griffiths took control on the offensive end. At the defensive end it was another Sunshine Girl and one of the best players in the world, Vangelee Williams, who thwarted the Tivoli attackers.
Jamalco then cruised to a comfortable 61-47 win in a dominant final-quarter display that has been the hallmark of their triumphs over the years.
Jamalco received $120,000 for their win while Tivoli got $100,000 as consolation. Third-placed Mico were awarded $80,000.
Nevers said that one of the keys to victory was the tactical discipline of his players.
“I thought the girls played well; they played to instructions,” he said. “The last training session we had, we asked Marsha Murphy-Dawkins, who is the captain, and Anna Kay-Griffiths, who are two moving shooters inside the circle, so we planned to play them for the first two quarters, to move the ball around fast to get the defenders' legs a bit weary heading onto the second half.
“They did just that. They moved the ball around; they asked the defenders to run up and down to try to catch them but they did not,” he explained.
Nevers nevertheless praised his opponents for a solid effort and pushing them for three full quarters.
“Tivoli stayed in the game with us and they played up until the last quarter because we were three or four goals ahead of them. But the last quarter when the defenders' legs were tired, when Murphy and Griffiths moved the ball around, the veteran Elaine Davis came in and had it easy.
“I think in the defending area we really played well because we were leading throughout the game and it is because of the defenders who won a couple of balls here and there and the midcourt was a bit stronger than them. Nadia Brown, our wing attack, was outstanding.
“It was nice to win another top netball competition in the island, because from 1998 we have been doing well. In 1998, we played Tivoli in the first final when we started playing in the league and we have been playing in every final since then”.
Abigail Linton, captain of the Tivoli Gardens team, admitted to the emotional challenge playing in the final.
“Mr Seaga was someone who was very important to the team and when we heard about his death it took a toll on the team members, so we really wanted to come out today and do it for him, but tough luck. We have to try again next year.
“For next year we just have to go back to the drawing board, see what we can fix, improve on our skills individually and just come back for it next year.”