Captain inspires team with emotional pre-game address
NETBALL: An emotional speech from captain Lily Bartlem helped inspire The Cathedral College's commanding victory in the Rockhampton District Secondary Schoolgirls Netball Open A grand final.
The 17-year-old spoke fondly about the sisterhood - the special bond the players share - before they took to the court at Jardine Park for their showdown with the Emmaus Flames on Friday night.
Bartlem's sentiments were reflected in TCC's performance as they went on to score a 40-24 win to claim back-to-back schoolgirls titles.
"There's really no words that can describe how well the girls played,” Bartlem said after the victory.
"We had some players who were carrying injuries but they didn't let that bother them. Every single person on the court played their hearts out.”
That positive summation was echoed by coach Renee Williams, who said the win had the team well placed for its upcoming QISSN defence in a fortnight's time.
"It was an excellent win. The girls put on a wonderful display of netball.
"I think Lily's inspirational speech hit home with all the girls. They all went out there playing for each other and that team spirit got them through.
"There were players like Zeckeisha Oakley who I thought could not possibly play any better but they went to a whole new level on Friday night.”
Oakley was a stand-out, dominating the middle with her incredible court coverage and countless intercepts to be named the grand final MVP.
Jane Childes was also strong in centre court and Sophie Reddy worked tirelessly in defence. Bartlem and Ellie Nasser controlled the TCC shooters circle while Laynii Hetherington and Liezel Viljoen combined well at the defensive end of the court.
TCC's star defender Tori Rouse, who is carrying a back injury, was able to play the fourth quarter of the decider.
"Because she's in Year 12 we wanted her to have a bit of the glory as well,” Williams said. "She's a key player for us and will be on full rest now until we go away for QISSN.”
Both teams came out firing in the first quarter and were evenly matched before TCC "put the foot down” to land 16 goals in the second.
"From then on, we knew we had it,” Williams said.
"Emmaus hung in there. They were a really good opponent and they've got some young players coming through which will make it very tough for us next year.”
Circle defender Hayley Smith was best on court for Emmaus, while Taylah Cox was accurate in the shooters circle.
There were 17 grand finals played on Friday night. Rockhampton Grammar won five premierships, TCC and Emmaus College each won three, North Rockhampton High won two, while St Ursula's, Rockhampton High, Glenmore High and Yeppoon High captured one each.
Results from the Rockhampton District Secondary Schoolgirls Netball grand finals
- A: TCC Titans d Emmaus Flames 40-24 (MVP Zeckeisha Oakley)
- B1: TCC Apollos d RGS Meteors 35-20 (Lilly Peachey)
- B2: RGS Phantoms d RGS Bullets 26-19 (Lauren Nielson)
- C1: RHS Blue d RHS Brown 21-13 (Kaitlyn Bellamy)
- C2: GHS d NRHS Grey 16-12 (Karneesha Warkill)
- 10A: Emmaus d TCC 26-8 (Sharena Vea Vea)
- 10B: Emmaus d St Ursula's 19-17 (Gabrielle Fitzgerald)
- 10C: Emmaus d NRHS 18-12 (My Ngo)
- 9A: RGS Storm d Emmaus Red 35-15 (Caitlin Van Loggerenberg)
- 9B: RGS Mystics d YHS 14-11 (Tahlia Fenlon)
- 9C: YHS Blue d TCC Blue 21-6 (Niah-Jane Hepburn)
- 8A: RGS Warriors d St Ursula's 30-19 (Arnika Forest)
- 8B: RGS Redskins d Emmaus Red 27-19 (Ella James)
- 8C: NRHS d RGS Lightning 28-4 (Tiere Levi)
- 7A: TCC d RGS Suns 25-22 (Emily Jones)
- 7B: St Ursula's d RHS 33-31 (Siarrah Kani)
- 7C: NRHS d Emmaus 14-13 (Soraya Peterson)