In an extremely close contest, Tucson and Carolina traded the lead for almost an entire bout, with neither team able to gain the upper hand for any significant amount of time. However, it was Carolina that was ahead when time ran out, and they became the only team from the East region to advance to the Texas Shootout’s second day, 80-73.
Carolina jammer Denise Lightning makes her move out of the pack. Photo credit: insanitylabs
Many Carolina bouts seem to start off as very strategic, low-scoring affairs, and this was no different — while Carolina’s Zella Lugosi managed to start off the bout with a 2-0 over Tombstone Teri, the score became stuck there for the next five minutes as lead jammers would consistently call off jams at 0-0 to keep their opponents from gaining an advantage. After seven jams and about 13 minutes into the bout, it was tied up at 11. At that point, Tucson jumped out to a bit of a lead, as Tucson’s Sloppy Flo picked up 3 points when Carolina’s Denise Lightning went to the penalty box. On the following jam, Denise was taken down hard in her opening lap and had to switch to defense in an unsuccessful attempt to keep Tucson’s Two-Bit Ore from picking up a grand slam point on her. That made it 19-11 in favor of Tucson, but on a big Jam 9 for Carolina, Tucson focused slightly too much on helping out their jammer Tombstone Teri, allowing Carolina’s Princess America to lap her twice in the course of going 8-0 to tie up the bout at 19. That was the beginning of a Carolina run that climaxed with Carolina captain Betty Rumble dropping an 11-2 jam on Sami Automatic as the Tucson defense completely failed to notice her on her first two scoring passes. This put Carolina up 42-26, and it looked like the girls from the East were settling in the driver’s seat. They also got a significant break a couple of jams later, when Tucson’s Sloppy Flo got lead jammer and was about to lap opposing jammer Betty Rumble when Rumble broke the pack and was also called lead jammer — before the mistake could be rectified, Rumble called off the jam. While Flo won the jam 4-0, Carolina was saved the grand slam point and possibly a few more. A few jams later, the half ended with Carolina up 48-34.
photo credit: insanitylabs
Tucson came out playing very smart in the second half, managing to keep Carolina scoreless throughout the first six minutes of the half while slowly cutting into the lead. On Jam 4 of the half, Sloppy Flo tied up the game, 54-54, on a tight 7-6 jam over Denise Lightning, who started the jam in the box. On the following jam, Tucson’s Sami Automatic managed to get Tucson the lead for the first time since early in the first half with a 4-1 over Zella Lugosi. However, the lead went right back to Carolina on the next jam, when Liberty Valancezuela took a heavy hit that left her deep in the infield and then tried to cut the track directly across the middle to get closer to the pack. She was sent to the box, and Betty Rumble put up 5 points before being sent to the box herself, setting up a full 2 minute jam between blockers Randi Canyon for Tucson and Eva Lye for Carolina. Both skaters were battered by the defense and could not finish their first scoring passes, but Eva Lye barely got the better of it, winning 3-2 and giving Carolina a 63-60 lead with about 12 minutes to play.
The score remained tight over the next few jams, and finally Tucson would make their move. First, Denise Lightning got seriously battered on a jam against Sami Automatic, and Sami won 3-0 to bring Tucson to within just one point at 70-69. Next up, Tombstone Teri put the lead back in in Tucson hands with another 3-0 win, marked by Carolina blocker Militia attempting to deck Teri as she made her move for lead jammer but instead spectacularly wiped out, driving the audience into a frenzy. And just one jam later, the bout would be tied up yet again when Denise Lightning picked up a 3-1 over Sloppy Flo, making it 73-73 with just 6 minutes to play.
This set up a very dramatic set of three final jams. First off, Tucson blocker Deadlock Doe absolutely leveled Tucson jammer Betty Rumble during the opening pass. Apparently feeling the effects of the hit, Rumble passed the jammer star to Eva Lye, but neither Eva nor the Tucson jammer, Sami Automatic, could get through the pack for a solid minute. Finally, Eva battled her way out the pack, and savvily took her time waiting for the right moment to make her move around a still trapped Sami, picking up the grand slam point on her just as the two minutes ran out. That put Carolina up 78-73 with 3 minutes to play. On the next jam, Carolina’s Princess America managed to claim lead jammer and sneak past the pack on the inside before opponent Sloppy Flo could get any points on the board, but Princess only picked up 2 points due to cutting the track — and more importantly, picked up a fourth minor right before she called off the jam. That set up a riveting final jam, with 1:30 left on the clock and Tombstone Teri coming to the jammer line unopposed for a minute with the chance to erase a 80-73 lead for Carolina. But there would be no last-jam heroics for the Saddletramps, as Carolina’s defense kept Teri on her opening lap for a full minute, until Princess America was finally sprung from the penalty box. While Teri was finally declared lead jammer, there were only about 20 seconds left on the clock, and she called off the jam, setting off a rowdy celebration for the Carolina bench and sending them to a semifinal bout against Kansas City. Final score: Carolina 80, Tucson 73.