Thunderbirds thrash Mavericks to extend unbeaten run as Firebirds upset Fever

By Sports Desk June 22, 2024
Romelda Aiken-George led Thunderbirds from the front. Romelda Aiken-George led Thunderbirds from the front. (Photos: Getty Images)

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.