Cougars take series lead

Lady Cougars flogged Preferred Insurance Brokers Pinelands 63-49 in the #1 Beauty Supplies and Beauty Exchange Barbados Amateur Basketball Association Women’s League Finals played last night at the Barbados Community College.

Former national players Toni Atherley with a game-high 22 points and Jennifer Joseph- Hackett 19, spearheaded the 14-point victory to give Cougars a 1-0 lead in the best of three series, as they seek to dethrone defending champions Pinelands. The scores were 14-12, 33-25 and 43-34 after three quarters.

(From left) Toni Atherley of Lady Cougars taking on Tamisha Flatts of Preferred Insurance Brokers Pinelands. (Pictures by Morissa Lindsay)
Jennifer Joseph- Hackett of Lady Cougars goes up for a layup.

Atherley and Joseph- Hackett under the guidance of coach Dexter Griffith were able to overpower Pinelands’ defence inside the semicircle, and muscle Pinelands’ power forwards Latifah Wood and her namesake Anicia Wood to make good use of those vital defensive rebounds, especially Gillian Martindale, another former national.

The score in the second quarter was tied 17-17 when Cougars broke the deadlock through Tiffany Thorpe with a two-point shot. She finished the game with a contribution of six points as did Martindale. The victorious ladies were able to accelerate their momentum through Joseph-Hackett scoring eight points along with Atherley providing a triple treat of three consecutive buckets as she accounted for four three-pointers in total. She also had 19 rebounds with 13 of those being defensive, three assists and a similar number of steals.

Similar to Atherley, Joseph-Hackett played a crucial role in defence, as she had 15 rebounds with ten on the defensive end.

Pinelands captain and former national point guard Sade Clarke, Tamisha Flatts and Maria Cumberbatch were placed under pressure to respond and with three minutes and six seconds left to play before halftime, they took a break to discuss strategy on how to break Cougars’ rhythm. And even though Clarke was able to free her arms for two consecutive three-point shots, Pinelands still had a bit of catching up to do after being down by a deficit of eight points heading into the penultimate period.

A minute into the third quarter and Clarke nailed another three-pointer to get Pinelands going. She scored 11 points, Latifah Wood contributed 13 and Maria Cumberbatch 12. They were the only ones into double figures with Tamisha Flatts adding seven.

The defending champions brought themselves back into the game as they trailed by only three points [34-37] which sparked some hope that they could possibly shift the momentum in their favour.

But every time hope surfaced, it then faded for Pinelands as Martindale, Joseph-Hackett and Atherley scored respective twos and gave Cougars a nine-point lead at the end of the third quarter (43-34).

That deficit was not out of Pinelands’ reach in the fourth and decisive quarter but Atherley, Joseph-Hackett and Tricia Gill were dominant in the backcourt to keep the pressure on both Cumberbatch and especially Flatts. She showed lots of aggression and quick hands to keep the ball in her possession, knowing her team needed to make every point count. She also had 15 rebounds with 13 of those being defensive, four steals and three assists.

Even though Pinelands were able to register their highest score of a quarter, 14, in the fourth period, it did not have much of an impact, as Cougars netted 20 points (20-14) to ensure they maintained their lead, got off to a winning start and forced the defending champions into a must-win situation to level the series this Sunday at BCC commencing at 8 p.m.

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