ATLANTA, GA — For the second year in a row the Texecutioners found themselves confounding expectations, the odds and all reason to compete for third place. They came up against a Denver team who found themselves competing for third for the second time in two visits. After massive penalty trouble in the first half, Denver came back in a big way late in the second half, halving their penalties and — with the aid of a record-breaking 44-0 jam for Sandrine Rangeon — escaping with a 210-199 victory.
Denver’s early-weekend pack penalty issues looked to be rearing their head again early on, as Texas erased a 1-0 deficit in jam two with an instant 4-2 pack advantage. Sharpless and Rangeon restored the lead as Texas’ blockers joined Denver’s in the box.
Minor penalties assessed on Killbox and Julie Adams meant a long two-minuter followed that let Killbox pull the Texecutioners back to within a point with a 12-9 jam. The next couple of jams were a wash–but a 35-0 for Olivia Shootin’ John gave Texas their first big lead of the bout, 25 of which were scored with Adams in the box, along with as many as three Denver blockers for much of the jam.
When Adams came out of the box in the next jam she had an instant change to make amends when Vicious was boxed as Adams returned to the track. Adams put up five before being flattened by Barbara Ambush–that left it 57-34 in Texas’ favour.
Several minutes later, though, Texas’ lead had all but evaporated; with thirteen minutes left on the period clock, Denver were trailing by just eight points at 60-52 — but at that point, the dangerous OJ got handed another power jam when Juska landed in the box with the Denver star. She couldn’t do the same damage as last time, but put up 19 points in the face of solid defenwe from Cruz and Akers, giving Texas a 79-52 lead.
With ten minutes remaining to play, following a smooth 4-0 for Sharpless, Texas called their first timeout. When play resumed, they sent Killbox out to jam with a 3-2 pack advantage against Juska; Killbox added four but trusted her defense to hold Juska, running for another 5 as the Texas four-wall locked down on the Denver jammer.
Denver wound up back in penalty trouble again — with six minutes left in the period, they’d racked up twice as many penalty minutes as Texas (20-10) and found themselves again at a 4-2 pack disadvantage. Juska was able to pick up a single point in the next jam, keeping the score within 20 points at 89-70 in Texas’ favour.
Smarty Pants extended that lead with a 4-0 in similar circumstances; OJ then got a quick lead jammer call over Sharpless and a 4-2 Texas pack. As the jam was called, Sharpless picked up two points and a major low block, handing Texas a power jam to start the next jam. They sent out Smarty Pants but it took her 45 seconds to make an initial pass; her first scoring pass was faster and she made her second as Sharpless returned to the track, picked up lead jammer status and called off the jam. At the jam’s conclusion, Texas held a 106-72 lead.
It was another power jam then for Texas as Juska landed in the box after a fourth minor; this was the third unopposed scoring opportunity for Olivia Shootin’ John and she turned it into a 20-0 win, letting the Texecutioners go to the locker room with a 126-72 halftime lead.
A power jam for each team in the opening five minutes of the second half saw the teams trade big jams, but Texas maintained their lead at 141-95 with 24 minutes on the clock.
Blocker penalty trouble again reared its head for Denver; Juska was able to put up a 4-0 despite a 4-2 pack disadvantage but in the next jam, Killbox made relatively short work of a short Denver pack for a 4-0 as Sharpless got hung up amongst the Texas blockers. It was clear, though, that Texas were in penalty trouble of their own — and with their jammers: they sent OJ out for an intentional fourth minor as Killbox jammed, and then Killbox for her own intentional fourth in the next jam.
Rangeon was able to close the gap with a natural 14-0 as Vicious Van Gogo failed to make an initial pass; Juska backed that up with a lead jammer call and a quick 2-0 over OJ. In the next jam, the two Denver blockers were unable to stop Vicious making a quick first pass but they pulled it together on her scoring pass, holding her to 2-0.
It was then Rangeon’s turn to shine again — she put up a natural 14-0 as Killbox got stuck in the Denver pack, copping a battering from, in particular, Quigley who laid her out on the infield. The momentum continued as Juska put up a 4-0 over OJ, bringing the score to 150-133 with Denver trailing.
Texas were able to maintain but not extend that lead over the next couple of jams and called their second team time-out with 13:35 on the clock and the score standing at 157-140. When play resumed, OJ ran for a natural 13-0 as Belle Starr locked down a seemingly punchdrunk Juska, stretching Texas’ lead to 30 points. It went the other way in the next jam, though — Vicious got stuck behind James as Adams put up 4-0.
Rangeon had an easy run against just two Texas defenders, adding five points before OJ escaped the pack and three more before calling off the jam. Denver called their second time-out then to stop the clock with just over ten minutes remaining as they trailed 170-152.
After a 0-0 jam, Vicious had a quick first pass and called off the jam right as Adams picked up a major multiplayer block as she attempted a uniform whip, heading to the box with the Denver star. Texas sent out Olivia Shootin’ John, hoping for another big jam — heavy defense from Quigley and Long slowed her scoring and eventually forced a major cut, shortly after Adams returned to play. Adams was able to add 9 before the jam expired, leaving the score at 190-162 in Texas’ favour with six minutes left to play.
Texas called an official review at that point and in the next jam, Barbara Ambush was the only Texas player on the track — Rangeon cruised for an easy 15 before OJ returned to play. As Texas continued to experience blocker penalty trouble that left them with either only one on the track or two blockers separated by a clump of Denver blue, OJ struggled to make an initial pass and Rangeon was able to secure the lead change — her spectacular 44-0 brought the score to 206-190 with 3.29 on the clock. That 44-0 run was the highest score ever achieved in post-season play–the former record was 40-0, secured by Rangeon against Sacred City at last year’s Western Regional Playoffs.
Denver then sent out Juska, who ran into trouble on her scoring pass but was able to add 4-0 over Killbox. With a 3-2 pack advantage, Vicious van Gogo was able to pick up lead jammer status over Rangeon — she picked up 4 and called it off, leaving the score at 210-194 in Denver’s favour with 90 seconds left on the period clock.
She looked to back that up in the very next jam against Juska; grinding defense on both teams’ part kept the jammers’ initial passes slow — Vicious added 5-0 and called off the jam with 15 seconds remaining, allowing Texas to call their final time-out to secure one last jam. They trailed 199-210 and sent out OJ for the last jam of the night. Both teams had just two blockers; Denver fielded Akers with the star for her first and only time in the game — she picked up a quick lead jammer call and ran out the clock to secure a 210-199 win and the third-place crown.