By Thomas Gerbasi
Winless since May of 2014, the Bronx Gridlock pulled out all the stops in search of victory against the Queens of Pain on April 9 at John Jay College in New York City. From fast packs to star passes and everything in between, the cabbies battled for the win, only to see Queens break open a close game in the second half and come out on top, 200-159.
“We wanted it so bad,” said Gridlock MVP Big Banger, who logged a team-high 61 points. We felt strong in practice, we practiced all the situations that we could think of - we practiced star passes, power jam offense and defense, when Queens would do this and when Queens would do that. We were really ready, and I think we did awesome. I'm really proud of how we did.”
There was no shame in their effort, with seven first-half lead changes keeping fans on the edge of their seats and the Bronx in prime position to pull off the upset over their opponents, who have appeared in the last three GGRD championship games, winning one title.
But it seemed like every time the Gridlock would pull ahead, Queens All-Star ShortStop would toe the jammer line, and with moves that made her look like Allen Iverson on skates, she would weave through the pack and put up monster numbers. The result was a game high 96 points for the Australia native. And while veteran superstar Suzy Hotrod and team MVP Puss ‘n Glutes still led the way for the team, the emergence of ShortStop and players like Kitty Roadkill, Chopstick Murphy and Livvie Smalls let the league know that despite retirements and the usual league turnover, Queens is still a top gun ready to make a title run once more.
“I think one of Queens' strengths is that we took this crop of new girls and we said that they'd fit in as a part of the team from Day One and they did,” said Glutes. “Honestly, I've never felt a stronger bond in this group. Having Scars return, and having Alli and Bollocks and Lynx there on the bench just makes it feel like old Queens. We're just doing the same old thing but with a whole new crop.”
A back-and-forth battle between Suzy and Banger at the end of the half resulted in a jam that produced 34 combined points, but it was Queens going into the locker room with a 16-point advantage, 100-84. The Gridlock would cut that lead to 12 on the first jam of the second half, but that’s as close as they would get, as Queens steadily kept the pressure on, capitalized on mistakes, and pulled away down the stretch. Yet despite the final score, this was no cakewalk for Queens.
“It's no fun to play a game that isn't hard, and Bronx is an incredible team,” said Glutes. “They have so many new skaters and so many old skaters that really work their asses off, and they played an incredibly strong and powerful game. They have size, they have strength, they have speed and power and we were working from Day One to be able to counter that and we hope that we're able to continue streaking through the rest of the season in the same way.”
It wasn’t a win for the Gridlock, but it was something to build on as they await their May 7 meeting with the defending champion Brooklyn Bombshells at John Jay. “I feel we did great at holding some of their really strong jammers a lot of the time,” Banger said. “We knew going into it that Shortstop is phenomenal and Suzy Hotrod is phenomenal and that we would be going against them a lot and we exhausted them. They hated being behind our walls a lot of that time, and we're really proud about that and it's a good step to build off of.”
So what should Gotham fans expect on May 7?
“A win by at least...some points,” she said. “More than one. (Laughs) We're gonna win.”
BRONX vs. QUEENS STATS
1 2 F
Bronx 84 75 159
Queens 100 100 200
Bronx MVP – Big Banger
Queens MVP – Puss ‘n Glutes
Leading Bronx Scorers
Big Banger – 61 points (12 jams)
Kate Sera Sera – 39 points (9 jams)
Legs // Cite – 36 points (9 jams)
Leading Bronx Blockers
Fast and Luce – 23 jams (-24)
Caf Fiend – 22 jams (-16)
Cherry Napalm – 21 jams (+5)
Leading Queens Scorers
ShortStop – 96 points (15 jams)
Suzy Hotrod – 68 points (14 jams)
Kitty Roadkill – 19 points (4 jams)
Leading Queens Blockers
Puss ‘n Glutes – 24 jams (+52)
Chopstick Murphy – 21 jams (+8)
Livvie Smalls – 17 jams (+3)
Minutes in Box: 35 Jammer Box Trips: 10
Minutes in Box: 36 Jammer Box Trips: 10