Improving Gaters look to spring surprise against Hummingbirds
Clarendon Gaters will be looking to put all the facets of their game together as they chase an unlikely victory against defending champions Kingston Hummingbirds, in Netball Jamaica’s semi-professional Berger Elite League, at Leila Robinson courts on Saturday, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Three matches will be on court, with Manchester Spurs facing St Ann Orchids in the opening game at 5:00 p.m. and St Catherine Racers facing St James Sharpes at 7:45 p.m.
Clarendon Gaters lie fourth with nine points from eight matches and are battling among three teams for two remaining semi-final spots.
St Ann Orchids have 10 points from seven matches, with three tough matches to play – two against leaders Manchester Spurs (21 points) and the other against defending champions Kingston Hummingbirds (18 points). Also in the running is St Catherine Racers (seven points). St James Sharpes are bottom of the table on three points from eight.
“I need very good attacking, excellent defending, clinical shooting and most importantly, the win,” said Dalton Hinds, head coach of Clarendon Gaters.
“Our chances are as good as the other team. We are the youngest team in the competition, mixed with some experience and we have been competing well,” he added.
The Gaters are an improving lot, as shown in their 43-46 loss against the Spurs on Tuesday when captain Shadian Hemmings, Shedieky Hamilton-Barnes and Petal Smith combined with young Amanda Pinkney, Mischa Creary and Latanya Wilson to push the league leaders to the brink. For the clash against the Hummingbirds, Hinds says they need to execute well.
“(We’ve to) minimise unforced errors, especially in attack. Our shooters have to be able to handle the physical (aspect), play smart, turn and put the shot up and if we get our shooting percentage up I will be happy,” noted Hinds.
“Defensively we have been good. However, I need more defensive pressure throughout the court and on their shooters consistently,” he added.
That pressure will be key if they are to stop Kingston Hummingbirds’ frontline artillery from high-scoring goal shooter Sabrina Spence and her deadly back-up partners, Shanice Beckford and Hasana Williams, with centre Paula Thompson making combinations in what compares essentially to a national attacking line-up.
Still, Roy Pryce, the Hummingbirds assistant coach, expects a tough contest.
“I think it is going to be a very competitive game. We’ve been looking at the opponent in the last game that they played, they lost by three goals. I think they’re a vastly improved team from the last two seasons and I think they’re going to give a good account of themselves,” observed Pryce, whose team won its first-round encounter 56-43.
“Our aim and objective is to win, our first aim is to win. If we can win by more than 10 goals it would be good for us for our momentum going forward. But I think it is going to be a very good game, the opponents are good, Mr. Hinds is a very good coach, these girls are ready,” said Pryce. “However, the Hummingbirds are up for it and we’re expecting to win.”
A win would keep them on course to topping the preliminaries, which could come down to goal difference with Manchester Spurs, against whom they have split their clashes at one apiece.
“Our aim for the season is to go all the way and defend our title and coach Nevers (Winston), myself and the ladies have appreciated the fact that we’re in second position now. We want to finish at the top of the table at the end of the preliminary round and then see where we go from there,” said Pryce.