Orange High School’s speed through the mid-court proved the decisive factor in Friday afternoon’s Astley Cup netball tie, which the Hornets ultimately won 51-41.
It was the victory that clinched the tie for the Orange school too, giving it an unassailable lead heading into the final fixture of the tie – basketball.
The Hornets went into the clash leading Dubbo College 362-238 and the 54-46 netball split sealed the victory, keeping Orange’s hopes of a second straight title intact.
Led by Orange Netball Association representative star Cheynoah Merchant, the Hornets built an eight-goal lead by quarter-time.
The Dubbo side never went away, but OHS never relinquished the lead, at one point stretching it to 12 before ultimately sealing a 10-goal win.
“We played pretty well out there, the girls’ decision making was really good for the majority of the game and they did a great job to play together for all 60 minutes,” OHS coach and Astley Cup coordinator Tegan Dray said.
“We played Dubbo in the Combined High Schools (CHS) competition, and a few girls played for Western, so we did know what we were coming up against to a degree.
“The Dubbo side did play really well though, it was a good test for us before we go away to the CHS final 16.”
Dubbo coach Rebecca May praised her side, but she did admit it’s slightly disappointing to have gone down.
The girls’ decision making was really good for the majority of the game and they did a great job to play together for all 60 minutes.
“We lost to Orange by 10 goals in the CHS tournament as well, and then again [on Friday]. It’s a bit disappointing but I thought we played quite well,” May said.
“We certainly didn’t go away and being behind didn’t get the girls down at all.”
Orange led 14-6 at the break, but the visitors slashed that deficit to five at half-time, Dubbo trailed 27-22.
The main reason for that was Ally McLean, who didn’t miss a shot in second quarter, dialing in and sniping from long range.
Her showing combined with wing attack Jada Darcy’s, nigh on the best player on the court despite being in the beaten side, suggested a comeback was possible.
But, being in the attacking third, good transition ball was key to the pair making a big difference.
Orange won the battle in the middle easily, stifling McLean and Darcy’s opportunities as a result.
Orange stretched its lead back out to 10 at three-quarter-time, extending it to 12 at one point in the final term.
Merchant was a constant for OHS, while Anna Matthews came alive in the second half when the pressure was on.
But, as she normally does, Dray preferred not to highlight any individual performance in the double-digit victory.
With good reason too.
“Well, when everyone is doing their job some people get to finish off, but it’s always a team effort,” she smiled.
“I thought everyone played really well. They all contributed to the win.”