Wilson's Player-of-the-Match performance on 50th-game milestone propels Thunderbirds over Swifts

By Sports Desk May 25, 2024
Jamaicans Latanya Wilson (left) and Shamera Sterling-Humphrey share a light moment after the game. Jamaicans Latanya Wilson (left) and Shamera Sterling-Humphrey share a light moment after the game.

Jamaican defender Latanya Wilson, produced a Player of the Match performance in her 50th national league game to assist Adelaide Thunderbirds to a comfortable 58-33 win over New South Wales Swifts in a lopsided affair at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Saturday.

The contest, which was a repeat of last year’s grand final, was expected to be just a fierce, but Wilson and her Thunderbirds teammates were in a no-nonsense mood, as they won all but one quarter of the encounter to bounce back from last week's nail-biting one-goal loss to West Coast Fever.

Wilson, 23, notched up 118.5 Nissan Net Points thanks to four intercepts, seven deflections and nine pick-ups in a performance that matches her milestone.

“It feels so amazing. What a milestone. It is such a great feeling and I am so happy we got the win. We are evolving and we are hunting something new, whatever that looks like, I am so happy that I am a part of this great team,” a beaming Wilson said in a post-game interview.

While the wing defence did her part along with compatriot and goalkeeper Shamera Sterling-Humphrey, who had five deflections and three intercepts, another Jamaican Romelda Aiken-George led the Thunderbirds attack with 30 goals from 32 attempts.

Lucy Austin (12 goals from 12 attempts), Georgie Horjus (nine goals from 10 attempts), and Lauren Frew (seven goals from nine attempts), contributed the others.

Wilson was on song in the Thunderbirds defence.

Meanwhile, the Swifts, who were off beat all-around, got most goals from Sophie Fawns (16 goals from 19 attempts). Helen Housby (10 goals from 14 attempts), Trinidad and Tobago’s Samantha Wallace-Joseph (five goals from seven attempts) and Grace Whyte (two goals from four attempts), got the others.

Aside from the opening quarter in which they came out strong and secured a 13-12 lead over the Thunderbirds, the Swifts struggled to maintain momentum throughout.

In fact, they made a number of errors in the second quarter that shifted things in favour of the Thunderbirds, who capitalised and won the quarter 11-7 to overtake the lead at 23-20 at the half-time interval.

Wallace-Joseph finally entered the court for the Swifts to start the third quarter which meant Housby moved back into her preferred position of goal attack, but the move proved futile.

While both teams made some uncharacteristic errors, the Thunderbirds recovered best and later asserted their authority on the contest in what turned out to be a match-winning third quarter.

Sterling-Humphrey made her presence felt and picked up a flying intercept, after which, Wilson took the mantle to shut out the Swifts, as they ended the quarter 13 goals up at 41-28.

Faced with the huge deficit, it was crucial for the Swifts to come out firing in the fourth quarter - and they did for the most part, but another intercept from Sterling-Humphrey prevented them from scoring.

From there, the Swifts racked up penalties and turnovers, while missing six of their 11 attempts, as Thunderbirds effortlessly took the quarter 17-5 to complete the 25-goal rout.

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    Jamaica’s Shamera Sterling-Humphrey, Latanya Wilson and Romelda Aiken-George continued winning ways with Adelaide Thunderbirds, as they produced a blistering second half display to secure a 67-41 win over Melbourne Mavericks at Adelaide Entertainment Centre, on Saturday.

    The 26-goal victory –Thunderbirds’ widest margin so far this season –propelled them into second position on 32 points, same as West Coast Fever, but with a better goal difference of 93 goals greater than their conceded total. Melbourne Vixens (36 points) remain in pole position.

    Aiken-George again led Thunderbirds from the front with 39 goals from 43 attempts, supported by Lauren Frew, who scored 13 goals from 15 attempts. Lucy Austin had nine goals from 11 attempts, and Georgie Horjus ended with six from six.

    Another Jamaican Shimona Jok led Mavericks’ efforts with 25 goals from 28 attempts, as Eleanor Cardwell (10 goals from 13 attempts) and Gabrielle Sinclair (four goals from seven attempts) offered support.

    Horjus was on top of her game across all four quarters, finishing with 116 Nissan Net Points, while Sterling-Humphrey (106 NNP), who was briefly sidelined after taking a knock to the face, and Wilson (77.5 NNP) delivered standout individual performances.

    Adelaide Thunderbirds celebrate their win.

    The Mavericks were more spirited at the start, as Jok scored three unanswered goals, before Sterling-Humphrey raked in two gains, two intercepts and a deflection in the first term alone, to bring Thunderbirds back into the contest. Aiken-George was prolific on the scoreboard for the Thunderbirds in a tightly contested and physical quarter, which they won 15-14.

    The Thunderbirds maintained the momentum in the second quarter, courtesy of brisk goals from Frew and Aiken-George inside the opening minutes.

    An aerial duel between Jok and Sterling-Humphrey, forced to the latter to the bench with a suspected concussion from a hit behind the ball. She was replaced by Wilson, who also made her presence felt, as Mavericks’ penalties and turnovers proved their undoing in the quarter that ended 18-11 in favour of Thunderbirds, with the score at 33-25 at half-time.

    Like the first two quarters, the Mavericks struggled to make the most of their possession in the attacking third, and that allowed Thunderbirds to maintain a stranglehold on the contest, which seemed headed for blowout. Despite a strong performance from Jok and a Super Shot from Sinclair, it wasn’t enough to claw back the Thunderbirds’ 15-goal advantage heading into the final break at 49-34. 

    Still, the Mavericks fought on with four quick goals in the opening three minutes, before a deflection from Sterling-Humphrey and a couple of impressive long-range goals from Horjus widened Thunderbirds’ gap to 17 points.

    And even switching Jok to goalkeeper to match Aiken-George's height, proved futile for the Mavericks, who were blew away 18-7 in the final quarter.

    Sterling-Humphrey maintained her stellar performance and ended with a rebound, six intercepts, and five deflections, while Wilson was also on song with an impressive seven deflections and an intercept, as both thwarted the opponent’s attack.