Smoke City Betties 69 vs. Chicks Ahoy! 182
The Chicks Ahoy! continue to plow their way through the ToRD regular season after a tough, yet in-the-end definitive victory over the Smoke City Betties, their third straight regular-season victory over the team dating back to 2009. The Betties came out flying, taking an early lead before the Chicks could gather themselves and get back in it. Pulling away at the very end of the first half, they dominated the second half allowing only 24 points against to wrap up the 113 point victory to retake top spot in ToRD’s 2012 regular season standingsand put themselves into position for that all-important bye to the Battle for the Boot 6.
Injuries to top jammers Candy Crossbones and Dyna Hurtcha forced a roster shuffle from the defending champs. Bala Reina and Kookie Doe were looked upon to pick up some of the slack while Rebel Rock-It was slotted in as the third jammer (an important pack player for the Chicks, moves like this have reverberations all along the roster). The Betties took advantage of the Chicks as they settled in, and dominated the opening jams, opening up a shocking 22-0 lead within the first four minutes. Unfortunately that opening burst would account for about half of their points in the half, and a third for the whole game.
Rebel Rock-It picked up the first lead of the game for the Chicks and would get them on the board before subsequent solid jams by Bala and Kookie had the champs almost all the way back, down by only 4 at the nine minute mark. The First ten minutes of the game showed great swings in momentum and at the end of it, it looked as if the Betties were struggling to keep up. But if this team wants to continue to expand upon its early success in 2012, they will need to develop their depth at all positions, and this game was a good indicator that this process is occurring. Having given up 21 straight points to allow the Chicks back into it, rookie Slaptrick Swayze (who earned big minutes after an impressive performance at the Beast of the East) pulled off a lead jam with the help of some strong positional defence from third-year skater Platinum Bomb (who is having her best season to date), and finally put some more points up on the board to hold on to the lead, 24-21.
But after the surprisingly sleepy start, the Chicks were relentless in their push for the comeback. Dominant pack work from ToRD’s dynamic duos of Nasher the Smasher and Tara Part, and Mega Bouche and Marmighty frustrated the Betties all night. In terms of pack depth, hard hitting rookie Biggley Smallz and her smart and perceptive co-rookies Doris Doomsday and Roadside BombShel performed very well also, often matched up together with veterans to create some balanced and successful lines. The consistency from the Chicks finally began to pay off by drawing out some undisciplined play from the Betties and a Kookie Doe power jam about midway through the half saw the Chicks take their first lead of the game (31-30). Things would remain close, with Bala Reina, in particular, getting stronger as the half progressed. A power jam at the end of the half allowed the Chicks to widen the gap to their biggest lead of the game, doubling up the Betties 90-45.
While the Chicks had controlled the second part of the first half, the Betties never seemed that out of it and won enough little battles throughout the half that a pushback seemed imminent. But Bala Reina, who is have an amazing 2012, put to rest any thoughts of a Betties comeback when she laid down 20 points on the opening jam of the second frame (with four natural grand slams behind some stifling pack work), giving her team a 65-point lead that would prove impossible to overcome. But the spirit of the Betties would never wane. It was the best performance by the team against the Chicks powerhouse in three years and led by the usually strong Mia Culprit, Lady Scorcher and triple threat BruiseBerry Pie, many others had strong games as well with Misery Mae showing sharp track sense and great positional awareness while Sin D Drop-Her continues to punish the opposition and Renny Rumble added more evidence to her strong case for rookie of the year consideration.
With the absence of Rug Burn (who jammed more than any other skater in the Betties season opener), Wolverina continued her fine comeback with a gutsy and patient performance with the jam star, joining titmouse and Swayze in the regular rotation and providing consistency and stability on the offense. Nonetheless, the Chicks just seemed to get stronger as the game wore on and were relentless defensively, particularly on any disadvantages or power jams they gave up and by the midway point in the second were up 143-52 having outscored the Betties 53-7 in the first 15 minutes of the period. The Betties shrugged off the shell shock and played much better toward the end (only being outscored 39-17 the rest of the way), but couldn’t make up any of the gap, falling 182-69.
Despite the second straight loss for the Betties, this was another strong performance from the team, and yet another sign that things are moving in the right direction. The Chicks, on the other hand, do not seem to be slowing at all and with an ever-deepening pack and the emergence of Bala Reina as yet another potent weapon in the Chicks’ already impressive arsenal, they seem poised to defend their championship.
***With a couple big travel-team games coming up, the ToRD houseleague will reconvene on June 9th to close out the 2012 regular season with a rare double-header featuring all four of the home teams.