KAMA Duncan kept her nerve and defending premier netball champions IMS High School Old Girls maintained their unbeaten run in this season’s competition at the YMCA on Saturday.
Goal shoot Duncan was cool, calm and collected as she sank the goal that tied the game at 45-all, with only seven seconds remaining.
Duncan and goal attack Maxine Moeke played major roles in clawing back a seven-goal deficit in the final quarter,
Duncan, now in her fourth season with HSOG after returning to Gisborne from Dunedin, played down her last-gasp scoring shot.
“I played shockingly in the third quarter but we all played better as a team in the fourth and it was good the shot went in.”
HSOG coach Jo Bennett, who came off the bench for the final quarter with her team trailing 37-30, said it was a timely reminder of how close the top four teams were, with only two games to play before the semifinals.
“We always knew this was going to be a tough game; we expected nothing less from YMP,” Bennett said.
YMP (1) player-coaches Ingrid Brown (goal defence) and Mere Kingi-Nepe (wing attack) were far from disappointed at letting a seven-goal advantage slip.
“No way; we’ll take a lot from this game, especially with the playoffs coming up in a couple of weeks,” Brown said.
Co-coach Kingi-Nepe, who was my player of the match, said, “The way the girls played would give them a lot of confidence.”
YMP (1) led 14-11 after the first quarter but HSOG hit back in the second to finish the half 25-23 in front.
Inspired by Kingi-Nepe and midcourter Michelle Mita, YMP hit back in the third quarter to open a five-point gap. When that became 37-30, HSOG were staring down the barrel of defeat.
Like true champions, and with Bennett on at wing attack and captain Kelly Swann-Ferris (goal defence), Kelly Mulvey-Warren (wing defence), Duncan and Moeke rising to the occasion, they began to reduce the deficit.
Duncan and Moeke sank four goals without reply before YMP goal shoot Catherine Pardoe stretched the gap to four.
Duncan and Moeke then scored five goals to put HSOB in front, 40-39, with three minutes to play.
Pardoe and goal attack Paku-Jane Brown, another to play well, regained the lead for YMP, only for Duncan to have the final say.
For HSOG, goal keep Malayna Bentley took overhead balls strongly, came out hunting for the ball and put the shooters under intense pressure. Duncan and Moeke worked the circle well and gave their feeders options.
The speedy Mulvey-Warren picked up valuable loose ball and was always available for passes, while centre Tanya Kingi had a good all-round game and was especially prominent in the last quarter.
YMP shooters Pardoe and Paku-Jane Brown, playing her first full game at goal attack, slotted good long shots.
Defenders Ingrid Brown and Melissa Haenga caused several turnovers, especially in the third quarter. Mita combined superbly with Kingi-Nepe in midcourt, linking both ends and delivering well-timed passes into their shooters.
The draw for HSOG — effectively a loss of two points — and Nga Hau E Wha’s 70-47 win against Gisborne Girls’ High School mean HSOG now head the table by just one point. With these teams due to meet in the final round-robin game before the semifinals, the battle for top spot looks like going to the wire.
Whangara Old Girls (1) were too strong for YMP (2), winning 75-38. Tracey Babbington-Maynard led Whangara well, driving strongly into the goal circle and delivering perfectly weighted balls into shooters Vianney Douglas, Maiangi Mackey and Nadia Taare.
Ngapare Callaghan and Kylie Whakataka combined well in defence and stopped many passes into YMP’s shooting circle.
Whangara led all four quarters — 22-11, 34-21, 51-31 and 75-38.
A gallant Gisborne Girls’ High School side were no match for Wanita Tuwairua-Brown’s Nga Hau E Wha, and lost by 23 goals.
NHEW’s experience, height and speed meant they were always in the box seat. With NHEW improving with every game, they could be the dark horses in this season’s competition.
Waikohu went to the top of the bottom-four competition with a 60-32 victory over Horouta Gold. The Violet Tuapawa-Crawford-coached Waikohu now lead with 27 points, from GGHS, 26, Horouta, 20, and Ngatapa, 13, with YMP (2) out of contention.