It took nine years and then some, but all that matters is St Lucia has won the 2014 ECCB/OECS Under-23 Netball Championship. Even more satisfying, is the fact the group of young ladies won it before a home crowd at the Beausejour Indoor Facility on Tuesday.
It wasn’t easy. After winning this championship 14 times, St Vincent and the Grenadines wanted more at the expense of St Lucia. Not on this night. St Lucia came away with a 52-46 win, but there were some tense moments.
The home side led 12-11 after the first quarter and at the half 26-20. Many thought it was game over after the third quarter, when St Lucia led 31-40. St Vincent chipped away at the lead and at one stage in the fourth quarter were only four points behind. But that’s as close as they came and St Lucia emerged with a 52-46 win.
Assistant Coach Lindel Forde had this to say following the win. With a sigh of relief she said: “Finally. We worked hard at it. We prepared well by playing matches with the seniors, who played an instrumental role and by giving the girls the encouragement they needed to reach this far. With the support of the managing staff and coaches we finally did it. We brought it home.”
St Lucia finished first overall going undefeated in the four day tournament. St Vincent and the Grenadines finished second and Grenada was third.
An awards ceremony followed the final with several prominent guests in attendance, including Minister for Youth Development and Sports, Shawn Edward and his Permanent Secretary and President of the St Lucia Olympic Committee, Fortuna Belrose; Director of Sports, Jim Xavier; OECS Desk Representative, Judy Deterville; and President of the St Lucia Netball Association, Rufina Paul.
The following awards were presented. Country MVP’s: Antigua, Tanya Greene, Dominica, Deana George; Grenada, Christa Stephen; Montserrat, Juana Osborne; St Kitts, Rochelle Challenger; St Lucia, Ianna Hippolyte; St Vincent, Mary Ann Frederick. Tournament MVP, Ianna Hippolyte, St Lucia. Top Performers: Best Shooter, Christa Stephen, Grenada (97.37 percent); Best Defender, Shakeira Collymore, Grenada; Best Shooting Team, St Vincent and the Grenadines; Best Defending Team, St Lucia.