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Cheetahs take Game One of finals

The 4 J’s Cheetahs women’s basketball team is on a mission this year and will not let up until they complete their goal, winning the New Providence Women’s Basketball Association(NPWBA)Championship, to go along with the pennant title they secured during the regular season. They have to go through the defending champs, the Bommer George Angels, if they want to win the championship, and on Saturday night, they proved that they are ready for the challenge as they dominated Game One of the best-of-five finals from the opening tip. The Cheetahs, led by Audrey Martin, had to hold on down the stretch for a 67-64 win.

Head Coach Mario Bowleg admitted that the series will come down to who wants it more. He said that the only problem they have is decision-making.

“The game was what we expected it to be, a close and competitive one,”said Bowleg.”I still don’t think we played with the intensity level that I would like for us to play with. I think if we can fix that, we can be a much better team and have a better game. Some of our key players didn’t play too well in that game(Saturday)so that is a positive and negative thing even though we got the win. Come Tuesday, we aren’t going to make any major changes, just make a little adjustment to make sure that we have a smooth flow. We need to improve on knowing what we want to do. Defense is going to be the same intensity level. They are going to keep coming and it is going to be a tough fight. It all boils down to who wants it more and who executes best in 40 minutes of the game.”

The Angels, who advanced to the championship after a tough three-game series with the Johnson’s Lady Truckers, opened up Game One a bit sluggish. Their first points came five minutes into the first quarter and was made off the free throw line. Before Sharelle Cash stepped to the line, the Angels had already missed two wide-open shots and committed three team fouls.

The Cheetahs were also in a shooting slump at this point. After Martin opened up with four quick points, the team’s offense went downhill for most of the first half.

Getting the job done for the Cheetahs early were their post players, Anastacia Moultrie and Linda Pierre. The duo scored six of the 18 points posted in the opening quarter. Moultrie and Pierre’s dominance continued in the second quarter. While Pierre controlled the inside, Moultrie opened up her game by netting shots from around the perimeter. However, that didn’t shake the Angels.

The Angels pulled themselves within one, after being down by 10 points at the start of the quarter. Point guard Diasti Delancey was able to spread the opposing defense and opened up the lanes for Suzette McKenzie and Kaylicia Laing to go to work. Delancey also chipped in on the scoring with flashy moves that gave her room to go to the basket for open shots.

The Angels’bench assisted in the team’s comeback. By the end of the quarter, the Angels were down by three points. Their bench scored 19 points that quarter.

As a team, they netted 28 points off turnovers, eight more than the Cheetahs who scored 20 points off turnovers. The points in the paint were also won by the Angels especially after Pierre fouled out. The Angels had 36 points to the Cheetahs’34.

Even though Pierre had to watch the action from the bench, the Cheetahs were still able to get the job done, snatching down rebounds on both the offensive and defensive ends. A total of 22 points were scored by the Cheetahs off second chance points. Their bench scored 67 points.

Martin led her team to victory with 17 points, three rebounds and one steal. One point under Martin was Moultrie with 16 points. She added 17 rebounds, one assist and steal. Martin and Moultrie were just two of four players hitting double figures for the Cheetahs. Taranna Pyfrom and Thompson netted 11 and 10 points respectively. Before fouling out, Pierre scored seven points and pulled down four rebounds and had three blocked shots.

Over on the Angels’side, McKenzie showed up with 18 points and seven rebounds. Cash netted 15 points, had five rebounds and two steals, and Delancey closed with 13 points, two rebounds, seven assists and five steals. Ashley Moss scored 10 points, and had six rebounds, one assist and one block with five steals.

Game Two in the series will tip-off at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday at the D.W. Davis Gymnasium.

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