Tuesday, April 5, 2011

MNRG silences NRG Tornado Sirens in final jam, 111-95

Naptown - Indianapolis, Indiana - sent fourteen of their finest players on a twelve-hour bus ride to Saint Paul and nearly went home with an upset victory against the Minnesota RollerGirls All-Stars. Naptown came to the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium on a seven-game winning streak following their excellent showing at the 2010 North Central regional tournament in Green Bay. After a slow start, Naptown adapted to Minnesota's diverse jamming lineup and came within one jam of upending Minnesota's standing as #2 in the region.

Minnesota took a knee just before regulation play began, creating a "broken pack" opportunity that sent the jammers hurtling off the line immediately. Scarmen Hellectra took the first lead jam and scored three unanswered points. Minnesota tried again with a broken pack in the following jam, but Naptown's Willa Hoeflinch flew through their defense for the lead. However, the fast-moving Juke Boxx came from behind to pace Willa and suck her back into the pack; Willa called the jam. Minnesota then landed three more straight lead jams for fifteen more points, but the pace of Naptown kept Minnesota from pulling ahead too quickly. Nonetheless, Minnesota shut out Naptown for the opening minutes, 18-0.

Naptown's Willa Hoeflinch got the team's second lead jam as Ima Hurchu held up Minnesota's Harmony Killerbruise long enough for her jammer to score four. Blue Messiah then stole one point from MNRG's lead-jamming L'exi-Cuter, but got nailed with a back-block penalty as L'exi called the jam. MEDUSA converted the power jam for ten.

Naptown then went on a streak of four lead jams as their blockers began to form up just in front of Minnesota jammers with no-pack formations as each jam started. Though the formation worked to keep back MNRG jammers for precious seconds, Naptown jammers had limited success in getting far enough ahead of Minnesota to score. In fact, Minnesota stole points from those Naptown leads, outscoring them 14-6 as MNRG began to adapt and score lead jams again. 44-11 Minnesota up, with eight minutes to play in the half.

Blue Messiah took to the jammer line against Scarmen Hellectra. Naptown set a phalanx just ahead of the pivot line, giving space for their own jammer to fly through...and Scar's attempt to crack the wall resulted in a major back block. Blue flashed past the remaining pack for the lead as her blockers sliced apart the Minnesota defense. Naptown forced the pack to a stop; Blue scored 14. That jam effectively doubled Naptown's score as Minnesota panicked and sent several players to the box in their attempt to down opponents. Naptown's Willa scored four more points the following jam.

Minnesota called a timeout to regroup, but Naptown took advantage of their opponent's small packs and Shadi Layne's precision blocking to bring the game to within ten at the half. HALFTIME 46-36, Minnesota ahead...but Naptown had outscored the MNRG 25-2 in the final minutes of the half.

Play restarted with MNRG's L'exi-Cuter jamming against Amooze-Booche. Booche took advantage of a pack destruction call on Minnesota's Vuedoo Prodigy to take the half's first lead, but blew it after scoring three by ramming into Jax Kvaas from behind. L'exi and MEDUSA took five points each on the resulting power jam opportunity. Willa responded with her fifth straight lead jam as her team escorted opposing jammer Juke Boxx off the track, but Willa could only muster a single point against Minnesota. MNRG 56 - NRG 40.

Minnesota grabbed the next two jams for five points, but Naptown's Asian Sinsation dropped L'exi-Cuter to the inside just as Sin's jammer began her lapping pass. Naptown scored three in the confusion. However, Minnesota then began to inch ahead over the next eight minutes by catching five more straight lead jams and outscoring Naptown 19-2.

Minnesota and Naptown matched one another in speed, making it difficult for Minnesota's jammers to find an opportunity to shut down Naptown. Still, Minnesota had command of the track, whether through Juke Boxx's inspired apex jump of all four Naptown defenders, or Vuedoo and Tiki Torture's pounding of Amooze Booche while MEDUSA scored nine. With fifteen minutes left on the clock, the MNRG were up 80-45.

Suddenly, Minnesota fell prey to Naptown's blockers. Over the next two jams, both Scarmen Hellectra and Harmony Killerbruise slammed into well-positioned NRG defensive formations from behind. With two drawn power jams early on each jam clock, Maiden America and Willa Hoeflinch scored an aggregate 23 unanswered points--bringing Naptown within twelve.

MNRG's MEDUSA responded by landing a 3-0 jam, but then Minnesota lost its head. Maiden America scored nine on a Naptown Minivan (5-on-2 power jam against a back-blocking Scarmen Hellectra), then Maiden went to the box at the end of the jam. L'exi scored only two against a sprint-quick Naptown pack before a misjudged double track cut sent her out for a minute. Maiden scored another ten. Amooze Booche scored the tying jam with three minutes left to play, 92-92. Minnesota's loss of focus almost cost them the game.

With two minutes to go, Minnesota sent MEDUSA to the jam line against Maiden America. MEDUSA picked her way through a light Naptown pack for the lead while the MNRG's Tiki Torture and Diamond Rough monstered Maiden into a track cut. Naptown tried to dump MEDUSA, but were only sent to the penalty box for their trouble. MEDUSA scored ten, but a late back-block call by the refs as the end-of-jam whistle blew sent her to the penalty box. Minnesota called a timeout, up 102-92 with 22 seconds remaining.

With MEDUSA in the box for a minute and Maiden America ready to run wild, Minnesota put Killaman Jaro, Harmony, and L'exi-Cuter in the pack to keep pace with Maiden (and Naptown blockers Cereal Killer and Asian Sinsation--the short NRG pack for the final jam). Naptown started in a blaze with a broken pack, firing Maiden off the line as the jam began. However, Minnesota's cadre of jammer/blockers waterfalled expertly, re-engaging with the Naptown jammer as she attempted to blow by. L'exi-Cuter held the last line of defense, and kept Maiden in the pack for almost the full minute of power jam.

Maiden at last emerged past L'exi and took the lead just as MEDUSA slithered from the box. Ima Hurchu almost forced a track cut on MEDUSA as the Minnesota jammer made her initial pass, but 'DUSA dropped to her knees and re-engaged the pack safely. L'exi sealed the game for Minnesota as she forced an inside major track cut on Maiden in the final seconds of the jam.

We asked Cooch about her decision to put speedsters in for the final jam. She told us, "I wanted 3 jammers out there. At that point I wanted people for their straight-up speed and ability to get through the pack if they needed to. All of them are very consistent blockers and I was confident that they could get to the front and maintain that position while keeping the jammer behind them. And luckily, they executed it very well,"

FINAL: MNRG 111 - NRG 95

Minnesota RollerGirls All-Stars
20 Lead Jams
111 points

13 MEDUSA (8-11) 53 pts
187 L'exi-Cuter (6-11) 24 pts
28 Scarmen Hellectra (3-7) 21 pts
75 Harmony Killerbruise (2-8) 10 pts
A18 Juke Boxx (1-3) 3 pts

Naptown Tornado Sirens
20 Lead Jams
95 points

76 Maiden America (6-11) 40 pts
318 Willa Hoeflinch (6-7) 21 pts
N3 Blue Messiah (2-5) 18 pts
7 Dora the Destroyer (3-6) 8 pts
208 Amooze Booche (3-11) 8 pts

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