Jamaica beat defending champions and hosts Barbados 35-21 to capture a record 11th Caribbean Netball Association Jean Pierre Youth (Under-16) title at the Netball Stadium in Waterford on Friday night. It was the first loss for Barbados.
Saint Lucia ended the competition on a high note as well, however. In fact, earlier on in the week, they had the closest game against Jamaica, a loss by just one goal in a match that came down to the wire. But on Friday, the experienced Saint Lucian ladies beat Trinidad and Tobago 31-18 to finish tied for third on points, and fourth on goal difference.
Megan Nestor made 28 of 34 attempts on goal, including a perfect 10 of 10 in the second quarter, to see Saint Lucia to an 18-5 halftime advantage. Merkisa Theodule missed both of her attempts, but Ayiel Leonard stepped in at goal shoot to hit all three of her second-quarter tries, missing both shots in the second half. Trinidad and Tobago attempted just 34 shots.
Despite repeating in fourth place (Jamaica was absent in 2015) Saint Lucia was declared the Most Improved Team. They tied with Dominica on 22 points, amassing four wins and three losses, including a two-goal loss to Bermuda, after triumphing by a goal over Dominica. In 2015, Saint Lucia had three wins and three losses.
Last year, Saint Lucia also had a better goal differential (by one, 23 to 22) and a better shooting percentage (75.77% to 72.59%). But young Nestor, who is eligible for this tournament again next year, will turn out to be a big story for this unit, and should be someone on whom Saint Lucia Netball can place big expectations.
Playing at home in 2015, after all, the lanky Canaries native was one of the tournament’s top defenders, active, athletic, and aware. A year later, after taking the shooter’s bib for Soufriere Comprehensive, she has morphed into a deadly markswoman, the tournament’s fifth leading scorer, with 106 points, her 75.71% the seventh best conversion rate.
Leonard, meanwhile, was ninth with a 71.43% success rate, whilst Theodule hit 68.32% of her 101 shots to finish 11th in the shooting tables.