West 5th Place: 3W Denver Outlasts 6W Bay Area, 171-152

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PORTLAND, OR — Much like Denver’s Friday-night loss to Rat City, their 5th place game with Bay Area was characterized by a raft of jammer penalties on both teams. This time, however, Denver was able to hang on for a very hard-fought and narrow 171-152 victory, managing to get a modicum of revenge for their 2010 elimination from Westerns at the hands of Bay Area.

Denver drew first blood in the bout with the help of Bay Area’s jammer Astronaughty getting boxed during her opening pass; Heather Juska put up 13-0. After a quick 0-0, Bay Area picked up 4-0 to Liza Machete. Astronaughty next picked up a slam on Caitlin Krause but waited too long to call; Astronaughty was boxed again and Krause was able to eventually battle her way through a tough Bay Area pack for a narrow 9-8 Denver win. Juska picked up a 10-0 on the other side of the powerjam to put Denver up 32-12 with 21 minutes left in the first half.

Scoring was fairly low for the next few jams, including back to back 0-0 frames as Denver would take lead but was unable to convert; with 16:30 to play it was 39-18 Denver when Bay Area got their next powerjam opportunity. Teresa Rusk picked up a fourth minor as jammer, and BAD did a good job of isolating a Denver blocker to free Liza Machete three times for a 15-0. Midway through the half, Bay Area was just a jam away at 39-33.

There was a bit of a confusing end to the next jam, as Bay Area’s Astronaughty took lead over Julie Adams; on her scoring pass, she committed a back block major on blocker Teresa Rusk but still managed to call off the jam before getting whistled off to the penalty box. The jam went 3-0 to Denver, but the penalty led to a lengthy conference between the benches and referees. Juska took advantage of the powerjam to give Denver a 10-0 that left it 52-33 with about 12 minutes in the half.

Bay Area got a bit of a tough break on the next jam when Chantilly Mace lapped Caitlin Krause and attempted to call the jam right as Krause entered, but the gesture apparently wasn’t seen by the refs; Krause managed to sneak in and score, forcing Mace to pick up one more lap for a 9-4. Denver gave up a powerjam to Astronaughty next, and Denver was reduced to just November James blocking on the track as they sent two blockers to the box and Tracy Akers had to remove herself from the jam on apparent skate trouble; that went 11-0 Bay Area and BAD was again on the verge of taking the lead at 58-53.

Denver’s penalty trouble continued on the next jam, with Monica Carson momentarily the only blocker available, and Astronaughty took advantage with a natural 10-0 to give Bay Area their first lead of the game at 63-58 with 6:20 in the first half. Denver’s Julie Adams reduced that lead to just a point with a quick 4-0 to move it to 63-62, and Teresa Rusk put Denver back in front with another 4-0, 66-63.

Bay Area lost their jammer early on the next frame, but Denver lost an opportunity when Krause picked up a major back block far ahead of the pack at the very end of her first scoring pass; Nock Nock came out of the box for a complicated 7-4 jam to Krause. On the half’s last jam, with the score 77-67 Denver, Bay Area got a powerjam for Chantilly Mace, and the resultant 10-0 made it a tie game at the break, 77-77.

Bay broke the tie quickly and gave themselves a solid cushion by picking up lead jammer on the first 5 jams of the half and going up 100-77; however, on that 5th jam, Ivy Prophane picked up a major track cut and Denver finally got on the board with a much-needed 15-5 to Heather Juska. Julie Adams followed that up by managing to get through a 3-2 pack favoring Bay Area for Denver’s first lead jam of the half and a 4-0. With 20:55 left in the game, it was 105-96 Bay Area; BAD called their first timeout there.

Astronaughty and Teresa Rusk engaged in some extended jockeying for position on the jammer line before the next jam started, but Astronaughty went to the box almost instantly when she shouldered Rusk in the face off the line; that filled the BAD box and left plenty of space and time for Rusk to pull a 15-0 that gave Denver the lead back at 111-105. However, Denver returned the favor by completely filling their own box on the followup, and Ivy Prophane duplicated the previous jam with a 15-0 of her own. With 17 minutes to play it was 120-111 Bay Area.

Demanda Riot, LIza Machete, Boo Ya Ya and Sugar Pusher had an extremely effective penalty kill two jams later, managing to make Teresa Rusk fight the whole two minutes just to come away with a 5-0; on the followup, it was Denver’s turn to let a pack of Tracy Akers, Monica Carson, Deirdre Sage and November James loose on Nock Nock during a powerjam — and BAD could also only get 5-0 out of it. It was 127-116 BAD with 11 minutes in the game.

After a quick 2-0 to Juska, it was Julie Adams with a big jam over Chantilly Mace, 13-0; in retrospect, that one would prove to be the game-winner. Although Adams was boxed on a track cut near the end of her run, it put Denver ahead again 131-127 with about 8 minutes to play, and Denver never trailed again. Nock Nock had a little powerjam to to play with before Adams was released, but pulled a back block and handed the powerjam advantage back to Denver. That jam would end early on injury to Bay Area blocker Psychoserapissed, but it went 5-2 to Adams and Denver hung on to the lead at 141-129 with 6:11 to play.

Denver still had a massive powerjam advantage when action resumed, as Bay Area’s box was completely full and Denver had Juska looking at a 3-2 pack favoring Denver. That turned into 10-0, and Denver added 4-0 next; suddenly, it looked like Denver was in the driver seat with a 26 point lead at 155-129 and only about 3:30 on the clock.

Bay Area got a chance with 3:20 on the clock and the score 155-129 when Julie Adams attempted to spin around a block to stay in bounds but couldn’t quite pull it off and cut track; Nock Nock picked up a hard-fought 4-0 and called it just in time to ice Adams in the box. That left BAD down by 22 at 155-133 and just under 2 minutes to play, but Adams redeemed herself by bursting out of the box to claim lead and 4-0, and BAD called their last timeout at 159-133 with 1:18 on the clock.

Denver put up ace Heather Juska against Chantilly Mace in the second-to-last jam; Mace took lead and 4-0 before calling, leaving just barely enough time for a final jam between Astronaughty and Teresa Rusk. Bay Area needed to make up 22 points, but with both teams only having two blockers on the floor, both jammers were able to get through for multiple scoring passes before Rusk ended up cutting track and finishing the game in the box. There were only about 30 seconds left in the jam when Rusk was boxed, though, and it ended up going 19-12 to Astro; Denver held on for the 171-152 win.

Denver finishes in 5th place for the weekend with a loss to Rat City and wins over Tucson, Sacred and Bay Area; Bay Area finishes 6th with losses to Denver and Rose City and wins over Angel City and Jet City.

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