By RON FANFAIR
Twilight’s coach, Wendell Greenidge, exuded confidence before last Sunday night’s Ontario Summer League Division One netball championship game against arch rivals VeeJays at Malvern Court.
His team was the defending champion and he had a good feeling that they would repeat even though Twilight suffered one of its two losses during the season to VeeJays.
“I did not want to appear too cocky, but I knew we had the talent and experience to avenge that defeat,” Greenidge said after Twilight disposed of VeeJays 49-38 in the title game. “We made some mental mistakes in the late stages of the regular season contest, but I was not worried because we are the champions and we had something that they wanted.”
Barbadian goal shoot/goal attack Lydia Bishop and Jamaican utility player Oberon Pitterson, who appeared in just the semi-final against Vixens and the championship match, boosted Twilight’s line-up this season.
Bishop is a regular member of the Barbadian national side while Pitterson, the University of the West Indies Mona Campus 2004-05 Female Sports Personality, captained the Jamaican team that won a bronze medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. She also played semi-professional basketball in Finland, Germany and Turkey and coached the Jamaica Under-16 basketball team.
“They added leadership, depth and versatility to our side,” Greenidge, who founded Twilight six years ago, added. “However, I always stress that this is a team game and every player contributed to our achievement this season and provided a fitting end to yet another successful year for us.”
Veteran centre and goal attack Sharon Butler said VeeJays’ uninspired play contributed to the loss.
“It’s very disappointing because we did not come up with our “A” game when it mattered the most,” said Butler, who is one of seven Ontario players on the national squad that will take part in the Six-Nations Cup series in Singapore in December. “We were not on the same page as a team and there was some miscommunication at crucial times in the match that hurt us.
“Twilight definitely played as if they wanted the title much more than we did and to suffer our first loss of the season in the most important game was not something we were looking forward to.”
VeeJays defender and former Canadian representative Shirley-Anne McKenzie, who missed last year’s title game for personal reasons, was optimistic that her team would complete a perfect season.
“Most of the players have been together for over a decade and our side is very versatile,” she said before the game. “Those are our assets and strengths and things we count on when we come up against Twilight in what has always been a healthy rivalry.”
Earlier in the evening, Twilight defeated North York 39-25 to capture the league’s Division Two championship.
Ontario Netball president, Patsy Thomas, praised the finalists and winners and said there was a rejuvenated interest in the league this season.
“We had several new players come aboard this year and this helped to enhance our league,” said Thomas who plays for Renown and was a member of the first Canadian team to participate in the World Netball tournament in Trinidad & Tobago in 1979. We, however, face several challenges going forward.
“Though we have been around for over 30 years, we have just 300 members and we have great difficulty in attracting new players on a consistent basis. The game is not played in the schools and we suffer from a lack of financial resources. We are, however, engaged in our own fundraisers and we have applied to the provincial government for a grant.”
A total of 10 teams took part in the summer league. They are Twilight, VeeJays, Commonwealth, Renown, Bramalea Nets, Vixens, North York, Scarborough, Brampton Eagles and Rising Stars.