At the halfway point of one of the most talented roller derby tournaments in the country, one thing has become crystal clear: Don't mess with Texas.
For the second straight night at the East Coast Derby Extravaganza, the girls from the Lone Star State put a hurting on a powerful East Coast team. One night after the turning away a pesky Montreal squad, the Texecutioners quieted the home crowd and defeated the Philly Roller Girls' Liberty Belles, 187-154.
Texas players said they weren't phased by a packed house of cheering fans or Philly's physical play. Despite having never beaten the Belles in the past, Texas proved to be a confident team in the heat of battle.
"We know we have a deep bench and we work together really well," said Texas' Curvette. "A lot of the teams in this tournament have a lot of star players but we knew if we worked together we could be victorious."
The win didn't come easy as Philly and Texas swapped the lead six times in the first half before Texas was able to build a 96-76 halftime lead. Texas stretched the lead to 114-81 five minutes into the second session before V-Diva answered with Philly's first eight points of the half.
Texas then upped the lead to 126-91 with 18:30 left in the game but Teflon Donna pulled the Belles back within 20 on the following jam. Shenita Stretcher followed with a dozen points of her own and suddenly Philly trailed by just eight points with 13:30 left. But a persistent Texas team kept adding small doses of points down the stretch and pulled away with a 33-point victory.
"They are a tough opponent but penalties got the best of us again," said Belles' jammer Antidote. "After the match we talked about self discipline and what we can do to reduce penalties. We are still in a transition stage and we are still learning each other and working on things. I think by regionals, you will see something different."
Philly will attempt to rebound on Sunday against a highly skilled Denver Mile High Club, which had its hands full with the Gotham Girls Roller Derby on Saturday. Texas is done for the weekend and can reflect on a perfect showing.
"This tournament really prepared us for what's ahead," said Curvette. "These games weren't easy. Philly is a physical team and we really had to fight to stay together out there."
As the Philly and Texas were set to square off, Gotham was continuing its world dominance of the roller derby world as it skated past Denver, 242-117, on the adjacent rink.
Gotham scorched out to a 123-59 halftime lead and had built an 80 point advantage with 10
minutes remaining. Denver showed a yeoman's share of grit, but was ultimately doomed by a seemingly unstoppable New York team.
"We're proud of ourselves today," said Denver skater Cruz. "We love playing teams like Gotham because we love learning new strategies. At least we gave them a little bit of a struggle and we look forward to seeing them again in the championships."
In one of the more entertaining bouts of the weekend, Montreal's New Skids on the Block scored their first win of the tournament by taking down Charm City, 153-131. Montreal used a hyped up crowd to fuel a strong second half after it looked like Charm City was destined for a comeback.
Montreal led 114-75 with 16 minutes remaining in the bout before Charm City came storming back with 35 unanswered points to pull within four points five minutes later. But Montreal took 35 of the next 39 points and held on for dear life down the stretch.
"They definitely had the momentum and we were starting to freak out," said Montreal skater, Honey Badger. "We decided that we didn't need a time out and we could dig down and get the job done and we did."
Honey Badger said a large traveling fan base and playing up to local fans has helped Montreal on the rink.
"For coming from a different country we seem to have a lot of fans," she said with a laugh. "We wear neon and we keep a good attitude so fans seem to like us."