NIAGARA FALLS, NY — Coming into the first quarterfinal game at the North Central Playoffs, 3 seed Naptown and 6 seed Detroit looked like potentially very well matched teams given recent identically-sized 3 point wins over Kansas City. While the first ten minutes were a rocky start for favored Naptown, the high seed eventually found their footing and used exceptional teamwork and engagement zone awareness to double up Detroit by halftime. Detroit trailed by as much as 76 points in the second half, but they made it interesting by scoring half their points in the game’s hectic final 15 minutes; in the end, Naptown won by 35, 187-156.
The bout was a rematch of the 3rd place game from last year’s North Central playoffs, where Naptown had won by just 11. This one would be marked by extraordinarily athletic jamming from NRG ace Amooze Bouche and particularly effective blocking from Dora the Destroyer in the back, who consistently abused opposing jammers via the boundary lines.
Detroit took a 1-0 lead on the opening jam, but Naptown struck hard on the second jam as Amooze Booche had some highlight-reel spinning to stay in bounds and complete a 9-0 run. Naptown couldn’t capitalize on the first power jam opportunity of the game on jam 4, as their jammer Majestic was boxed during her first scoring pass — Roxanna Hardplace came out of the box and won the jam 5-2 on the back of some passive offense from the Detroit pack. Naptown led 13-9 about five minutes in.
Two jams later, though, Racer McChaseher started unopposed and put her team in the lead with a very quick 8-0 power jam that made it 20-19; the speed of her jam allowed her to freeze Naptown jammer Amooze Bouche in the box, allowing Roxanna Hardplace to get lead and 10-0. With 19 minutes left in the first half, the low seed was leading 30-19.
Naptown came back with a brutal 65-3 run, though. The game’s momentum slowed a bit on the next jam as the jammers weren’t released until about 30 seconds into the jam; when things got started, though, Detroit immediately got in massive penalty trouble, with their pack reduced to one blocker. Naptown narrowed to 30-28 on that jam, and the penalty trouble continued for Detroit as they lost jammer Cookie Rumble to the box on the next.
G-Rocket used that time to jam her way to a 5-0, putting Naptown ahead 33-30 with 16 minutes in the half, and froze Cookie in the box for Majestic. That one also went very well for Naptown as Majestic used both speed and strength to make her own holes on the way to a 13-0. Halfway through the opening 30, Naptown had their largest lead of the game at 46-30.
That sequence seemed to lock in Naptown’s game. Naptown held off Detroit effectively for the rest of the half, with some exceptionally good positional work from Dora the Destroyer, Piper Sonic and Rachel Tension forcing Detroit jammers to chase them to the back of the pack after being blocked out. With 7 minutes left in the half, it was 72-33 Naptown, and Naptown had exactly double Detroit’s score at the break, 92-46.
The second half was marked by major momentum swings on lopsided power jams. Scoring was equal over the first three jams of the second half, but on the very end of the third frame, Naptown’s jammer was boxed on a low hit. Racer McChaseher bulled her way through a light Naptown pack of Dora the Destroyer and RIPtide repeatedly, putting up a badly needed 23-0 jam for Detroit. That set the score at 96-69 Naptown with 24 minutes in the game.
But after a lengthy timeout, it was Naptown on power jam, and Amooze Bouche squashed Detroit’s momentum in a big way, shaking off a devastating hit from Cool Whip and using smooth footwork to get through slivers of space at the boundary lines. The 25-0 completely erased Racer’s big jam in the previous frame, and put Naptown up 121-69.
Box trips in the next two jams looked likely to sink Detroit’s chances for good, as they lost Racer as jammer and once again got reduced to just one blocker on the track. Racer’s penalty spanned two jams that went 10-0 and 18-7 for Naptown, putting NRG up 149-76 with about 17 to go; one jam later, Detroit was again doubled up at 152-76.
The 6 seed would not go quietly. Roxanna Hardplace had a power jam opportunity that she converted to 19-0, bringing the score to 152-95, and Detroit was able to keep pace for the next few jams, leading to a new score of 159-101 with 10:23 left to play.
Naptown, though, clearly started to play for time, speeding up the pack, allowing Detroit to pick up points on jams where Naptown had lead, and engaging in some jammer-on-jammer defense. Those tactics would keep Detroit just barely out of striking distance even with Naptown giving up two power jams in the last five minutes.
With 1:35 to play, Detroit still had a prayer — they were down 43 points at 187-144, but held a timeout and had Naptown jammer Amooze Bouche starting from the penalty box. Cookie Rumble got 8-0 to make it a 35 point game at 187-156 and Detroit called their last timeout with 50 seconds to go; unfortunately for Detroit, Amooze Bouche grabbed lead and was able to run out the clock on a 0-0.
Naptown reaches the semifinals and will be guaranteed a trip to Championships if they get one more win in the weekend. They face the winner of Minnesota / Madison at 4pm on Saturday. Detroit goes to the consolation rounds and plays the Chicago Outfit Saturday at 10am.