KANSAS CITY, MO — 5SC Houston managed to erase almost all of a 62 point deficit against 4SC Atlanta and was as close as 5 points away with 5 minutes to play, but Atlanta hung on to deny Houston the upset in a 133-117 final.
The early going of the game was fairly tight; with a little more than 10 minutes gone, Atlanta was up at 21-20, and although Houston could not take the lead, they hung close to Atlanta to about the 7:20 mark, where it was 37-31 Atlanta.
The next three jams were a big momentum shift for Atlanta — suddenly, Houston’s defense seemed incapable of putting a body on an Atlanta jammer. Three jams after the narrow 37-31 score, it was a solid Atlanta advantage at 74-31 and under a minute left in the half. Houston finally got a narrow jam win to close the half with 8-6 to Wicked Sweet, taking the teams into the break at 80-39.
Two jams deep into the second half, Atlanta got a huge 18-0 powerjam for Merchant of Menace that put Atlanta into triple digits with a 101-39 lead. It looked at that point that Atlanta was in position to start walking away with it, but with about 22 minutes left and the score 105-46, Houston got a desperately needed big swing when Atlanta completely filled their box and Houston’s Shawshank reached deep for a 25-0. Suddenly, Houston was back in the game at 105-71; Atlanta called timeout with 20:05 to play.
Houston got another opportunity when Atlanta jammer Merchant of Menace was boxed during her opening pass; Mistilla converted that to 13-5, but then picked up a two-minute penalty by getting both a track cut and low block. That put it at 110-84 Atlanta; Houston did a fairly good job of limiting the extended-powerjam damage by holding Atlanta to 7 on the next jam before Mistilla was released. There were about 15 minutes left to play at that point and Atlanta was still up 117-84.
Houston kept coming, picking up lead jammer three times in a row and eventually narrowing the Atlanta lead to single digits at 122-113 with 4 minutes left in the game. Houston looked like they had a chance to take the lead there when Shawshank took lead, but Houston’s last best chance winked out there when she was sent to the box on a track cut. That jam ended in mass confusion as Atlanta apparently thought the jam was still on after the two minutes expired; after the situation was resolved, Atlanta had only added 3 points to their margin and led 125-113 with 1:40 left on the period clock.
Atlanta’s Merchant of Menace managed to ice the game for Atlanta by taking lead; although Shawshank burst out of the box and got points on the jam, Merchant wisely killed the remainder of the time on the clock, and Atlanta escaped with a 133-117 win.
Atlanta will go on to play the winner of Kansas City / Gold Coast in the semifinals at 4pm on Saturday; Houston goes to the consolation rounds to play Omaha at 10am Saturday.