RALEIGH, NC — Philly and Gotham provided what was by far the most dramatic bout of the Eastern Regionals, trading the lead all through the second half — and 4 times in the last jam alone — before Philly scored a one-point upset of Gotham to end Gotham’s two-year, 18 game winning streak by just one last-second point, 90-89.
In the first half, it looked like Gotham had a small but meaningful advantage over Philly, as they were able to hold the lead for almost the whole opening 30. Their largest lead of the bout was 33-14 with ten minutes to play, but the crowd exploded late in the first half as a power jam put Philly in the lead 39-35 with about 2 minutes to go, though Gotham’s Beatrix Slaughter took advantage of some musical chairs in the penalty box and scored 4 points on the half’s final jam to leave the game tied at halftime, 39-39.
By the second half, Gotham chose to start running a two-jammer rotation — they dropped Em Dash and Beatrix Slaughter from the jam rotation to run Bonnie Thunders and Suzy Hotrod for the entirety of the half. Two jams deep into the second, the teams traded 3-0 jam wins to put it at 42-42, but a Shenita Stretcher trip to the box allowed Suzy Hotrod to run up a 9-0 to put a tiny bit of daylight between the teams at Gotham 51, Philly 42. Bonnie extended it by 5 more with a grand slam over Mo Pain, leading to a Philly timeout with 23:29 on the clock and the score Gotham 56, Philly 42.
Power jams became a factor soon afterwards, as Gloria Grindem had some time to work alone and run up a 9-0 for Philly before hitting the box on a late-jam track cut that gave Gotham’s Bonnie Thunders an unopposed jam of her own. However, Philly was up to the challenge there, with blocker Heavy Flo being a major element of Philly’s ability to hold Bonnie to just a 5-0 in a jam that went the full 2 minutes. and gave Gotham a 10 point lead at 61-51 with 18 minutes left to play.
The underdogs had an enormous jam to follow up, as Philly put up an extremely rare double grand slam against Suzy Hotrod, who was totally unable to break the Philly defense, tying the game yet again at 61-61. Philly’s defense stepped up again with Gloria Grindem, Dara Licks and Teflon Donna doing the impressive job of stifling Bonnie Thunders and allowing a 8-0 run for Persephone, moving the score up to 69-61 favoring Philly.
Suzy Hotrod finally managed to get a lead jam call with a athletic jump to get out of the pack, but Gotham could only get a 3-2 win out of it. They nicked away again with a 2-0 for Hotrod, narrowing the margin to 71-66 for Philly with about 11 minutes to play and Bonnie added 4 more on the following jam to get within one point at Philly 71, Gotham 70 with 9:42 left.
Still no team could establish an advantage, with Teflon Donna only able to turn lead jammer status into a 3-2 win — and finally Gotham took the lead back as Bonnie Thunders took a 4-0 to put Gotham ahead 76-74 with 6:30 to play, and Suzy Hotrod adding 4 more to bring it to 80-74 Gotham. Gotham stole a 1-0 to follow, but things turned in Philly’s favor when Gotham’s jammer Suzy Hotrod was taken down on the opening lap by a trip from Persephone and Mo Pain lapped Suzy twice in the course of of a 10-0, putting Philly up 84-81 with 1:43 on the clock.
Teflon Donna went to jammer defense off the line to start the final jam, making Bonnie Thunders ineligible for lead by knocking her out of bounds — but Bonnie got out of pack first and Teflon was not awarded lead jammer either, forcing a 2 minute jam that would run out the clock With Philly up by 3, the result was that Bonnie’s 4 point pass to start put Gotham up 85-84, but Teflon’s answer a few seconds later gave Philly back the lead, 88-85. Once more, Bonnie came through to add 4 more and give Gotham the lead at 89-88, and as the clock ticked down, Teflon Donna needed to pass just one Gotham blocker to force overtime. She got the one, but couldn’t get the second before time expired … but with Gotham’s Sweet Sherry Pie in the box, Teflon was awarded the extra ghost point — just what Philly needed to turn a overtime game in a one-point Philly win for the Eastern Region title.