Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Garda Belts Bust Bombshells for Third Place, 76-74

After forty minutes of the smartest blocking ever executed by the women in green, the Garda Belts held off the Atomic Bombshells' potent jamming offensive and won a hard-fought battle for MNRG's third-place title.

The Gardas didn't make it look easy, but winning 3rd place in a talented league like the MNRG never is. Their 76-74 victory over the Atomic Bombsehells - last year's intraleague champions - killed a three-game losing streak and gave us a tiny peek at what the MNRG fans might see next year from the Garda Belts.

The Gardas' Cassie Rolle began this bout at the jammer line, jousting against Bombshell veteran Lizzy the Axe. Lizzy made it look easy, slicing past the Gardas' first line of blockers and took two, but illegal moves in the pack from her teammates Diamond Rough and Tara Skatesov sent them both to the box. The Gardas' Rumblebee used this to her advantage and scored the first grand slam of the night in the next jam as Garda blockers Betty LaRude and Anita Spankston easily held Hurtrude Stein at bay. 'bee's teammate - the green-wearing MEDUSA (and newest member of the MNRG) - added three more on top of that. 8-2 Gardas up.

Bombshell rookie Freeze Baby took the scoring lead back with a double-slam-plus, shaking off Betty LaRude and Ann E Briated while the Bombshell blockers superbly waterfalled* opposing jammer Moto Fluzzi to submission. Both Lizzy and Hurtrude Stein followed up with a lead jam each, scoring ten points to the Gardas' two in the next two jams. Hurtrude's run was six as she took advantage of her opposing jammer missing an opening through the pack made by her teammate Betty LaRude, then getting recycled mercilessly to the back of the pack by Diamond Rough. With eleven left in the half, the Bombshells had the lead 23-10.

L'exi-Cuter made her patented backside straightaway pass on the outside to grab a lead, but Cassie Rolle was able to break past a short Bombshell pack and got too close to L'exi for the Bombshell to attempt a scoring run. Rumblebee then took advantage of a lightly-guarded inside to get lead jammer, yet could not score. MEDUSA broke up the scoreless drives with four. Her teammate Sintripetal Force followed up with another lead and scored nine as opposing jammer Hurtrude Stein again struggled with the Garda pack, then got sent out for the game's first power jam.  However, 'Trudy' didn't catch the ref's sign and had to circle around back to the penalty box while Sintripetal continued to score. Sintripetal Force ("Trippy"), then got sent to the box almost as Trudy sat down, giving Hurtrude a short chance to score three herself.

A beautiful jammer takedown on L'exi-Cuter by Garda rookie Dropkick Donna into Turn 4 allowed opposing jammer MEDUSA to sneak through and score three points, bringing the score to 26-26 with four minutes in the half.  However, a low block at Turn 3 sent Sintripetal Force back to the penalty box. That gave Bombshell jammers Freeze Baby and Lizzy the Axe a free hand to fly through the pack over the next two jams and score ten unanswered points. However, that was at some cost: many Bombshell blockers were visiting the penalty box with frequency. Tara Skatesov got her fourth penalty for a clockwise block (and fifth for subsequent insubordination) during Lizzy's jam. This meant the vet Bombshell jammer was deep in penalty peril...with the immediate problem of a depleted Bombshell defense. Garda Belt Cassie Rolle used the short pack to her advantage and scored four points in the half's final jam. The Bombshells had the lead, but the Gardas were not out of the game, 36-30.

With Diamond Rough and Tara Skatesov sitting in the box for the Bombshells, the Garda Belt defense signalled for a broken pack start** to begin the second half, allowing MEDUSA to instantly fly off their line, sliding past Bombshell blockers for nine unanswered points. (That's lead change #3 if you're counting) Bombshell jammer Hurtrude Stein at last found her moment and answered with a double slam of her own as a refreshed Diamond Rough owned opposing jammer Sintripetal Force for several rounds of the pack. Lead change #4, 46-39, Bombshells up.

Garda Belt jammer MEDUSA returned to the jammer line for two more successive jams and eight points, but a track cut in the second consecutive jam gave Atomic Bombshell Freeze Baby an opening to veer through the pack for fifteen points. However, Freeze lost her train of thought and signalled to call off the jam while actual lead jammer MEDUSA was still in the box... This "illegal procedure" gave Freeze her fourth minor, sending her to the box. 61-50, Bombshells in the lead with thirteen to go.

The Gardas looked to the box and saw it stuffed with Bombshells. They took another broken pack start and tried to hurl Cassie through the front of the pack. The remaining Bombshells sped up and kept Cassie far enough behind that she could only score three points - and Cassie got blindsided by Tara (coming from the box following her sixth penalty trip) for her trouble. The Gardas then held the Bombshells scoreless for six minutes using both the speed of MEDUSA to make up for lead jams tallied by the other side, as well as mighty forces of nature like Rumblebee and Betty LaRude battering the Bombshells. Trippy finally scored the points that gave the Gardas lead change #5 with six minutes to go. 62-61, Gardas up.

That lead changed hands two more times as the Bombshells' Lizzy the Axe, then Cassie Rolle for the Gardas blew past opponents in the pack over the next two jams. Gardas 71-65 with three remaining. L'exi-Cuter's blockers brought the Bombshells within four as they phalanxed Garda defenders long enough for L'exi to take the lead and score. Lizzy the Axe then got the final lead jam and started roaring through the pack for the scoring pass against a flailing Sintripetal Force. However, Trip[y's Garda Belt teammate Betty LaRude forced a minor track cut on Lizzy in the middle of the pass, sending the Bombshell jammer to the box without finishing the pass. Trippy found her way through the pack and scored three points on the power jam...just a bit more than she needed to force a second scoring pass by Lizzy. Lizzy returned from the penalty box and finished her first lap of the pack, but before she could start the second, the final whistle blew. End of game. The refs called it, and the Gardas had done it. 76-74.

The Garda threat appeared to coalesce from nowhere. MEDUSA's sudden appearance in both the pack and the jammer line made a huge difference for the Gardas, but Sintripetal Force's contributions as a rookie jammer may even bypass those of 'Dusa. She, Cassie Rolle, and MEDUSA all scored an average of three points each time they went to the line. What's more, the measured-but-mighty takedowns by Citizen Pain and Betty LaRude complemented the wilder ones of Shiva Shank'n and Rumblebee.

The Bombshells were so close to taking this bout. The final power jam certainly cost them, but several of the women in orange had already fallen into some serious foul trouble by the second half. Those fouls may have kept the likes of Tara Skatesov off the track at a point when she might have been creating space or dropping MEDUSA into the turns. But weep not - we all know radioactive isotopes force the evolutionary process along. The amazing Bombshell squadron will adjust and begin anew next season.

13 Lead jams
4 Power jams
76 points

9-13 MEDUSA     5-10, 31 pts
1.618 Sintripetal Force     3-7, 24 pts
350 Cassie Rolle     3-5, 16 pts
4x4 Rumblebee     2-3, 5 pts
850cc Moto Fluzzi     0-1, 0 pts

13 Lead jams
3 Power jams
74 points

0054 Freeze Baby     2-6, 31 pts
41 Lizzy the Axe     5-8, 20 pts
727 Hurtrude Stein     2-6, 19 pts
187 L'exi-Cuter     4-6, 4 pts

 * waterfall: to return to the front of the pack for the purpose of blocking a jammer once that jammer has passed you.
** broken pack start: All non-jamming players on a team take a knee, creating a situation where there are no active players for one team in play. Hence, there is no pack as the jame begins and the jammers may begin off the line immediately. Never seen it happen before? You aren't alone; the tactic is very new.

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