Semifinal: #1Gore-Gore Rollergirls 133 vs. #4 Smoke City Betties 45
With Hot Roller and Brim Stone leading the packs for the Smoke City Betties and the Gore-Gore Rollergirls, the Gores’ top statistical jammer Bambi lined up against the Betties’ most experienced jammer Memphis Kitty. When neither jammer could shake the other, forcing a scoreless jam, most in The Hangar thought that the beginning of the inevitable blowout was simply delayed, perhaps stalled by Memphis Kitty’s experience on the track. The Gores followed with another top pack and its most tenacious jammer, Dust Bunny. The Betties’ rookie Tropic Thunder stepped up with the odds stacked firmly against her. What transpired was a jam similar in almost every way to the first. Just under five minutes in and the bout remained scoreless. While the top-ranked Gores did eventually wrestle control of the bout away from the precocious, last-place Betties, the expected lopsided result never materialized. And as the night wore on, it became clearer and clearer that this was not the same, inexperienced, overwhelmed team that had opened the season five months ago: the 2010 Smoke City Betties had finally found themselves.
Bambi was able to eventually break the defensive stranglehold with a double grand slam scored with Platinum Bomb trapped in the Gore’s pack. But not before the rookie Grim Avenger’s massive jammer take out on Lunchbox forced a call and sent a clear message that this Betties’ team had come to play. The Gores followed by putting out championship calibre lineups pivoted by their top pivots Brim Stone, Junkie Jenny and Molly Bloom, and maintaining its vaunted 1-2-3 jammer punch. But the Betties responded in full force to keep the bout close, with only a well-executed (but exhaustively earned) power jam by Lunchbox giving the Gores the comfort of a decent lead. It took almost thirteen full minutes for the Betties to get on the board, but when Sail Her Poon (who was returning to the jam line after earning her stripes in the pack against the Chicks Ahoy!) finally picked up four points, the Betties were still within reach, down only 30-4.
Only after the Gores had pulled ahead by 40 did bench boss Reverend Ramirez begin to experiment with his lines. Different pack formations (usually balanced mixes of veterans and rookies) led by either unorthodox pivots (Dust Bunny) or rookie jammers (Santa Muerte) were rotated out with great success. Dust Bunny was exceptionally strong in the bout putting in a triple-threat worthy performance capped off by some extraordinary positional blocking on a potential lead-saving power kill. But the story of the first thirty was summed up in the Betties’ strong end to the period led by a second straight stand-out performance from sophomore-star Lady Scorcher. When the final whistle of the first period blew, the Betties were down by a respectable 67-21.
The Gores began the second half with the same kind of lineup experimentation that ended the first. With rookie jammers getting valuable experience for the defending champs, and the Betties relying heavily on their rookies for offense as well, the difference in the bout ended up being the pack; it was in the pack where the experience gap between the two teams was the most evident. The Gores skaters have that roller derby instinct that comes with experience, and allows them to respond to whatever situation presents itself, whether it be a power jam or a pack disadvantage, without any communication or hesitation. The Betties aren’t quite there yet. But the signs are certainly in place that they are on the right track.
The story of this bout was definitely the rookies. On both teams, the newest skaters (with a full regular season now under their belts) were huge contributors. The Gores, looking to add to their formidable repertoire of jammers, put the star on a number of rookies, including Chronic, Miss Kitty La Peur, and Pinky Violence; Santa Muerte brought the same focused intensity to jamming that she brings to her pack duties, and Aston Martini took more and more jams as the half progressed. The Betties responded in kind, with Tropic Thunder and Sail Her Poon confirming that they are ready to lead an offense, while Platinum Bomb played her most effective bout of the season, giving the Betties a threesome to build around in the future. Despite the continued spirited play by the Betties (and the support or of an appreciative audience), the underdogs could not make up the ground. Closing out the bout with strong hitting and pack play from Lady Gagya, and strong jams by Molly Boom and Brim Stone, the Gores skated away with a 133-45 victory.
Next up for the Gores is the championship final on November 13, while the Betties get to start preparing for the off season. With roster spots already open, it will be key to assess the team’s needs and draft properly (and this will be an exceptionally strong draft); but it does seem as though the Betties do have everything in place. As the season progressed, the Betties rookies have grown into their roles on the team. With Grim and Sin D pivoting a pack rounded out by the likes of Mouth of the South and P Doddy, and Bomb, Poon and Thunder working the star so confidently, this is a team that has finally come into itself. On Saturday, we got a glimpse of the future of the Betties, and the future looks bright.
* You should especially keep an eye on ToRD.TV for the interviews from this bout, as junior correspondents Miss Fit and Biff Break-It made their excellent ToRD.TV debuts.
* The Death Track Dolls and Chicks Ahoy! will face each other on October 23rd for a chance to face the Gores in the finals. You will not want to miss this one. Tickets are already on sale.