Hum­ming­birds de­light, Or­chids also win in BEL opener

Jamaica Gleaner - - SATURDAY - Ray­mond Gra­ham Gleaner Writer

THE 2016 Berger Elite League (BEL) net­ball com­pe­ti­tion got off to an in­ter­est­ing start in­side the Na­tional In­door Sport Cen­tre on Thurs­day night as St Ann Or­chids and for­mer cham­pi­ons Kingston Hum­ming­birds got off to win­ning starts.

The Or­chids got the bet­ter of the Un­der-21 Shin­ers 63-55, while the Hum­ming­birds were im­pres­sive 47-29 win­ners over de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Claren­don Ga­tors 47-29.

Goal shooter Kera Christie was in good form as the Hum­ming­birds, the 2014 cham­pi­ons, rushed to a quick 50 lead in­side three min­utes, a lead that set the tone to a dom­i­nant first-quar­ter dis­play by the fit­ter, quicker out­fit.

De­spite a good de­fen­sive dis­play by cap­tain Kasey Ever­ing, the Ga­tors strug­gled to con­trol their turnover rate and failed to make the most of their of­fen­sive op­por­tu­ni­ties, with front pair Taniel Roberts and Mar­cella Thomp­son find­ing things par­tic­u­larly tough.

While they strug­gled, Christie and goal at­tack Shinel Ri­ley thrived, helped by pos­i­tive play from mid-court led by wing at­tack Kerry-Ann Brown and cen­tre Tracy Robinson as the Hum­ming­birds pushed to a 2513 half-time lead.

For the next two quar­ters it was the same story, as Hum­ming­birds con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate the game as both Stacey-Ann Facey at goal de­fence and goal­keeper Shameera Ster­ling proved too good for the Ga­tors’ of­fence.

Christie scored 23 from her 28 at­tempts with Ri­ley sink­ing 22 from 31 for the Hum­ming­birds, while Roberts had 12 from 17 and Thomp­son eight from 13 for the los­ing team.

Coach An­der­son was very pleased with her team’s win­ning start.

“I am elated with the win and I am very proud of the ladies. This is our first game and we didn’t have enough time to prac­tise and get to­gether as a team, but I think they per­formed well and what we saw tonight was a team com­pet­ing for this year’s cham­pi­onships ... we want to win the ti­tle this year,” said An­der­son.

De­spite the loss, coach of the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons, Dal­ton Hinds, was not too per­turbed.

“Con­grat­u­la­tions to the Kingston Hum­ming­birds. We haven’t played to­gether as a team be­fore and this was the first time they were ac­tu­ally play­ing to­gether. We are very con­fi­dent that we can re­tain the ti­tle and we are tak­ing one game at a time,” said Hinds.

In the open­ing game, for­mer na­tional player Si­mone Forbes, who has not played com­pet­i­tive net­ball for some three yearsshowed that she has not lost her zip as she brought back mem­o­ries of for­mer years with some ac­ro­batic and bril­liant plays.

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