D2C 3rd: Blue Ridge Climbs Sac City, 215-188

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MILWAUKEE, WI–Both Blue Ridge and Sac City are both coming off of their 2013 seasons with winning records and strong showings at the Des Moines and Kalamazoo Division 2 tournaments respectively. In their Milwaukee meeting, both teams looked focused and hungry for the opportunity to take the third place D2 title.

Sac City’s roster was shortened due to two post-playoff injuries: La Lucha broke an ankle in late September, taking her away from her spot as one of Sac’s top jammers, while Fitch Bace was out due to a torn calf. La Lucha’s injury, in particular, had an impact as the side found themselves with a jamming corps of precisely two: Too Short and Quick-Fire were the only Sac City skaters to take the star for the entire game.

From the start, Blue Ridge showed strong defense and quickly established lead over Sac City. Both teams skated remarkably fast packs for the majority of the game. Blue Ridge held a strong point margin for the first half, but Sac City came into the second half fighting hard in an attempt to regain lead. Ultimately, Sac City was unable to overcome Blue Ridge’s strong defense, and Blue Ridge took the third place win with a score of 215 to 188.

Early penalty trouble for Sac City afforded Blue Ridge the opportunity to steadily increase their lead over Sac. Jammers Lady Rider, Caslamity Jane, and Skelley-Tor fought hard for Blue Ridge, while their defense was relentless. Sac City had little answer for this for the majority of the first half. In the twelfth jam, Too Short quickly got lead for Sac City, but went to the penalty box on a backblock. This began a string of three consecutive penalties for Too Short, which spanned four jams total. At the end of this, Blue Ridge led with a score of 94 to 40.

In spite of this run of penalties, Too Short was put in to jam only a few jams later; she was able to get lead and score 15 points, and seems relatively unfazed by the previous penalties. This brought the score to 98 to 55 with just over five minutes remaining in the half.

Blue Ridge proceeded to gain lead for the next two jams, widening their lead to nearly 46 points. Jam 22 saw Too Short taking a fourth trip to the box, allowing Dixie Kicks to score 19 points, increasing Blue Ridge’s lead to a 61 point margin. The first half ended with Too Short coming out of the box and Caslamity Jane filing in on a track cut. Too Short got stuck behind Blue Ridge’s tough wall, leaving a score of 125 to 75 with the Blue Ridge advantage.

Sac City came out into the second half clearly looking to redeem the struggles they saw in the first half, gaining lead in the first three jams and steadily closing the point differential. Blue Ridge had several blockers in the box in the first five jams and by the seventh jam, Sac City really seemed to have found their groove, holding Blue Ridge to only 10 points, adding 39 points to the Sac City board.

Ten jams in, Too Short put Sac City within just a handful of points of Blue Ridge at 135-128–and when Quick Fire got lead jammer the next time out, she closed the margin to three. In those thirteen minutes, Sac City had held Blue Ridge to just ten points while racking up 57 of their own to all-but extinguish the Asheville’s team halftime lead.

But the lead change was never to come. Too Short cut her way to the box–her fifth penalty–and handed Skelley-Tor the opportunity to widen the gap … and when Too Short returned to play, she committed a back block and was sent right back to the box, putting her in danger of fouling out, and halving Sac City’s jammer roster, with 14 minutes left to play and the score at 158-132.

Sac City took a time out with 7 minutes of gameplay remaining and came back looking less frazzled. Skelley-Tor was able to score ten effortless points for Blue Ridge and the score was 194 to 156. At this point this could have been anyone’s game, but Blue Ridge was able to put a steady pounding on Sac City for the remaining 5 minutes of gameplay. Too Short brought a few solid jams for Sac City, but by 3:29, Blue Ridge looked to have secured their victory with a 206 to 173 point margin.

Sac lost another blocker as Stilleto fouled out, following Kahn Artist’s removal a few minutes earlier, leaving 9 skaters. In the final jam, Skelley-Tor gained lead jammer for Blue Ridge–but not content to wait out the box, reentered the pack and was sent to the box on a forearm. Too Short fought hard to find points until the jam clock expired, but Blue Ridge ultimately took the third place D2 title.

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