Derby Liberation Front overcomes key injuries, wins championshipBy Jim Almy
There’s no other way to say it. They just beat you down. They just take the best you can throw at them, shake it off and continue to beat you down.
Derby Liberation Front (DLF), the team that won the Rat City Rollergirls’ league Championship Saturday night at KeyArena, sorta remind you of a football team from these parts that won a championship a couple months back. Attitude, toughness, extraordinary athleticism and, well, just plain guts.
The final score, 204-131 over the Throttle Rockets, doesn’t give the Rockets enough credit for the gritty game they brought to the track and the closeness of the bout until the final quarter. The Rockets, after all, are not without their own brand of in-your-face play. It showed early.
Luna Negra (#911), the muscular silhouette of a scoring machine that you don’t see until she’s passed you or, worse, see just in time to be shoved rudely aside as she forces herself by, started the first jam for the Rockets. Next to her was rookie phenomenon Bam!!B (#444), DLF’s equally potent jammer. Luna treated the defense ahead of her as a nuisance, busting through the line of all-star DLF blockers Rumble Fist (#9), Full Nelson (#123), The KZA (#6) and Domino (#62) before the first quarter lap and picking up 14 points in the jam. Bam!!B spent part of that jam and the next in the penalty box, but picked up five points making it 14-5 after two jams.
And so it went for the first eight jams. DLF put their best on the track. The Rockets knocked them around. Blocker Raven Seaward (#53), put a shoulder into DLF jammer Bill F. Murray (#906) that launched her off the track. Murray led her team with 35 points in the first half, but scored none in the final 30 minutes. Luna Negra and Sintripetal Force (#1618) added scores here and there, calling off jams quickly and preventing DLF from making any impact.
Penalties bothered the Throttle Rockets more than their opponents for most of the bout. DLF took the lead in jam nine with three Rockets, Ethel Vermin (#77), Shock Therapy (#1400) and Missile America (#321) all sitting in the penalty box. Bam!!B had her biggest single run in the first half adding 14 to the DLF total and putting her team ahead for the first time 39-31. The Rockets ended the half with 26 penalties. DLF had 15.
DLF Coach Ho Chi Danh said that his team had, “The best total game we’ve played all year. We knew we had to play at our best to beat the Throttle Rockets and we did.” He also found unexpected support when injuries forced him to move key blocker Rumble Fist to a jammer’s role. In the 11th jam of the first half DLF jammer Muscle Sprouts (#5280), a leading scorer all season for her team, ran into a Rockets wall that left her on the track for five minutes, ultimately to be carried off. “I heard a pop in my knee,” she said while standing on crutches after the bout.
Rumble Fist’s approach to scoring, she finished the first half with 10 and the night with 34, was no-nonsense, no subtlety and no problem. She just looked for the strongest points in the Rockets defense and forced her way through.
“No other team could have adapted to the injuries we had tonight (blocker Avihater, #47, also left the bout in the first half with a knee injury),” said Coach Danh. “These girls do everything I ask of them. I didn’t want to pull Rumble off the line, but we needed scoring.”
The Rockets probably wish Rumble hadn’t started wearing the star either.
Sintripetal Force played a role in tying the bout twice as the first half closed. Her eight points in jam 15 brought the match to 62-62 with 11 minutes left to play. She added nine more in jam 18 to force another tie, 75-75. In both jams she also felt the full force of DLF blockers Ophelia Melons (#88) and Yoko Onoudi’nt (#20), who made her earn every pass.
Five jams passed in the second half before DLF scored any points. During that time the Rockets went ahead 101-99, serving notice that they weren’t going away easily. Bam!!B then took advantage of a power jam and great offensive blocking by Ophelia Melons, Yoko Onoudi’nt and Full Nelson to collect the biggest jam of the night and add 25 points to her bout leading total of 66. At 124-101 it was beginning to slip away for the Rockets.
Jammer Luna Negra was a particular target for the DLF blocking crew. For all her skill and strength she just couldn’t get out of the pack or found herself treated so badly that jams were called off out of futility. She had 40 points in the first half, 20 in the second, leading her team with 60 for the bout.
In the meantime DLF pounded away at the Rockets quickly tiring defense with brute force. Steady scorer The KZA and Rumble Fist continued muscling points in a bout that became one-sided with about 15 minutes remaining. The KZA had 65 points for the match, 30 and 35 each half.
With five minutes to go the penalties began to even out. The Throttle Rockets had 36, DLF had 28. But by then it was too many power jams too early in the bout for the Rockets to recover.
A crowd of 3,800 cheered the new champions as they hoisted their trophy, but it was cheering for both teams for a gutsy, hard fought and entertaining bout.
In the first bout of the night, the grudge match, Grave Danger bested the Sockit Wenches 250-143.
Tempura Tantrum opened the nights festivities, delivering a rousing version of the National Anthem before joining her Grave Danger teammates on the track. Everyone also enjoyed the Northside Drill Team, a community organization for 5 to 18 year-olds, who put on a rhythmic and close order performance at the half.
For tickets to the All-Star season which starts May 10th at KeyArena, go HERE