The Limpopo Baobabs were exceptional in the round-robin stages, winning thirteen out of the fourteen games they played and securing a semi-final spot against the Diamonds. It wasn’t an easy semi-final against the Northern Cape team, who showed progress in every match but were outclassed by the Baobabs, booking their spot in today’s final against the Tornados. The Tornados had a dominant start to the league, emerging unbeaten during Power Week in April. The Western Cape team finished third last year and their upward trajectory earned them a silver medal this year.
The first half was dominated by the Baobabs and both teams maintained the same level of intensity by scoring the exact number of goals in the first and second quarter. Baobabs Goal Shooter Muhluri Hlatshwayo, who has been the team’s engine, caused trouble for the Tornados’ defensive duo of Lauren Adendorf and Olukemi Akuma Agbai, forcing the defenders to resort to a double block. On attack, Center Jessica Matjiu controlled play up front for the Baobabs, launching twelve feeds inside the shooting circle, providing nine goal assists and grabbing two intercepts to give the Limpopo side a huge 30-18 goal margin at half time.
In front of their supporters who had travelled all the way from Limpopo, the Baobabs continued to trot along comfortably in the third quarter, putting every Tornados’ effort to doubt. Tornados Shooters Liandre Schoeman and Andiswa Mbilase played their roles effectively, giving the side hope to stage a comeback with their accurate shooting. The last quarter was a different ball game for the Baobabs, as they already had clear sight of the finish line. Eighteen fourth quarter goals were enough to steer the Baobabs to Division Two title glory, having sealed the match with an emphatic 65-40 win.
In the bronze medal final, the Mpumalanga Sunbirds rose to victory, and scooped a bronze medal following a hard-earned 44-39 win against a tenacious Diamonds team. Both teams had a point to prove and were looking for a strong finish, having lost in the semi-finals. The hunger certainly showed in the opening quarter, when the Sunbirds were leading by just one goal. The Sunbirds looked stronger defensively and were quick to take advantage of the Diamonds’ mistakes to take a six-goal lead at half-time.
Both teams lacked discipline on attack, giving away too many balls, but the Diamonds had a better conversion rate, and levelled matters in the third quarter. The Sunbirds looked more dangerous in the final quarter, with the crowd’s backing and took charge defensively but the Diamonds remained patient, sinking goals at any given chance. Tumelo Nkoe led defensively at the back, neutralizing the Diamonds with two intercepts, three deflections, and one defensive rebound, contributing to her team’s five-goal win and claimed her last Player of the Match award to seal a perfect send-off.
DIVISION TWO INDIVIDUAL AWARDS:
|Best Shooter||Marichelle Visagie||Baobabs|
|Best Mid-court||Amber Coraizin||Tornados|
|Best Defender||Cornelia Mupenda||Baobabs|
|Player of the Tournament||Muhluri Hlatshwayo||Baobabs|
DIVISION TWO FINAL STANDINGS:
Div.2|PLAY OFF POSITION 5/6|Queens 38-33 Comets
Div.2|BRONZE FINAL|Diamonds 39-44 Sunbirds
Div.2|FINAL|Baobabs 65-40 Tornados
Saturday (1 July 2023) Fixtures:
16:00|PROMOTION/RELEGATION MATCH|Baobabs vs Stars
18:00|Div.1 FINAL|Crinums vs Jaguars