Saint Lucia’s latest titanic encounter at the Caribbean Netball Association’s Jean Pierre Under-16 tournament was just about as tight as you can get.
It a bit of a grudge match, Saint Lucia having lost to SVG last year, and having lost again at the Windward Islands School Games. But even without that recent history, matches between teams from these neighbouring islands, in any sport, are always hard-fought.
Saint Lucia had played unbeaten at home over the course of the first two days. SVG had won its opener, but lost on Monday morning to another sub-regional rival, Grenada, whom Saint Lucia had beaten on Sunday.
The crowd was out in full force and in full voice at the Vigie sports complex on Monday night. They cheered lustily as Saint Lucia’s Kamala Mangal scored the opening goal.
But Kamala’s output was matched shot for shot by the Vincentians. At the end of the first period, scores were locked at 6-6. At halftime, they were 11-11. With three quarters gone, it was 16-16.
The crowd were on the edge of their seats as the seconds ticked down, the scoreboard showing 22-22. But with a tick remaining on the clock, Team SVG hit a buzzer beater to silence and deflate the home supporters.
It was Saint Lucia’s first loss, but the tournament remains evenly poised. Only Barbados, who trounced Grenada 21-12, remain undefeated. Saint Lucia get to challenge that record on Wednesday night.