Pictures and story contributed by reader Marvin Lowe.
Toa Payoh Sports Hall, Friday, March 7, 2008 – Methodist Girls’ School (MGS) emerged victorious in both the B and C Division West Zone Championship Netball Finals when the B girls beat Nan Hua High while their C team beat Clementi Town Secondary by identical 22-20 scorelines. MGS were the favourites in both finals, having had a good run in the group stages till the semi-finals. However, they were pushed to their limits by their opponents in the finals.
In the C Division final, Clementi Town made a great start, putting pressure on MGS and forcing them to turn over the ball several times. They made MGS pay for their careless mistakes and took a 5-4 lead in the first quarter. MGS looked out of sorts as they tried to muster a response to the Clementi Town pressure tactics. MGS managed to claw back into the lead midway through the 2nd quarter but lost the lead to Clementi Town. This see-saw battle continued all the way till half-time with both team level at 11-11.
At the start of the 2nd half, MGS started brightly and began to pull away with a 2-point lead. However, Clementi Town fought back with great spirit to level the score at 16-16 by the end of the 3rd quarter. At the start of the last quarter, MGS took the lead again and this time, they stubbornly held on to their advantage. MGS pulled away from Clementi Town with four straight points and looked set to take the game comfortably. Clementi Town began to look like a team that had exhausted all their energy and had been run ragged by the MGS.
But Clementi Town wasn’t about to go down without a fight. Somehow, through the encouraging cheers from their school supporters and teachers, the Clementi Town team mounted a comeback. They managed to fight back by cutting the MGS lead to one point in the last few minutes. However, they could not muster more points and MGS held their nerve to score one final point to seal the match and claim the C Division Championship title.
In the B Division Final, MGS faced off against Nan Hua High who had fought their way into the final by beating favourites Nanyang Girls’ High. Both teams were evenly matched right from the start and it was another close affair. Nan Hua drew first blood by scoring the first point of the game but it was MGS who gradually pulled away and took the 1st quarter 6-4.
MGS started increasing their lead in the 2nd quarter, at one point scoring three consecutive points to establish a 5-point lead. Nanhua tried to fight back but were thwarted by the brilliant defense of MGS’s GK, Beverly Shaddick. She easily was one of the more outstanding players for MGS, making key interceptions as well as pressuring the opposition Goal Shooters into missing their shots and collecting key rebounds. MGS were able to go into the half-time break with a comfortable 13-8 lead.
After the break, Nan Hua attempted to break the stout MGS defense but managed to only chip away one point off the lead. Entering the final quarter, the Nan Hua Players gave their all, chasing down loose balls, hassling the MGS players and making key shots. As the clock was winding down, Nan Hua managed to claw their way back to within two points of the lead. They pressed their advantage and eventually tied the game with 3 minutes remaining, raising hopes of an upset.
MGS however managed to compose themselves to score two quick points and retake the lead. Nan Hua tried to mount another challenge with the clock ticking down but could not come back a second time and when the umpire’s full-time whistle went, the MGS team erupted in jubilation and relief at the nerve-wrecking end to the 4th quarter.
MGS has clearly shown their strength in the West Zone and look set to lock horns with more challengers in the upcoming National Championships.