Double success for Maree basketball

Maree's Orioles Balsells Plaza and DSB Eanna's Paris Ballinger  in action from the Basketlball Ireland Mens Super League game at Corrandulla Hall on Saturday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Maree's Orioles Balsells Plaza and DSB Eanna's Paris Ballinger in action from the Basketlball Ireland Mens Super League game at Corrandulla Hall on Saturday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Maree enjoyed double success at the weekend in both the men's and women's Super League basketball action.

Playing in Corrandulla Hall, the women ensured they are keeping within distance of leaders DCU Mercy with a big win over Maxol WIT Wildcats.

Joe Sheilds' side produced an 87-52 victory in what he described as "probably our best team performance so far this season".

"We knew we had to be at our best against a good Waterford side. It’s the business end of the league now, so every win is vital.

"It’s been a serious season for us so far and the team has a togetherness and is playing hard for one another.”

Maree dominated from the start, with Claire Rockall and Carly McClendon leading the scoring to give their side a 36-26 lead at the half.

Although Wildcats had big scoring players of their own with Cathy Kavanagh, Jasmine Walker and Stephanie O’Shea all hitting double figures, Maree maintained their momentum in the third and fourth to run out comfortable winners.

Meanwhile the men's Super League team produced a much needed win over DBS Éanna on Saturday evening, running out 76-64 winners over the Dubliners.

The game was neck-and-neck in the first half, as neither team gained the upper hand. Maree, however, had a one point lead at the half, 38-37 and then produced a superb third quarter to extend the margin to 14 points. It was the turning point with Darin Johnson and Orioles Balsells Plaza to the fore.

Although Éanna rallied in the fourt, Maree maintained their push for a 76-64 win as the clock ran down.

In Dublin Moycullen did not fare as, well. It was a game Moycullen would have expected to win against a side that had failed to pick up a win all season.

“A week is a long time in sport” is a cliché that certainly applies to Moycullen, said coach John Cunningham.

Having produced their best performance of the season last weekend to down the league leaders at the time, Belfast Star, this weekend they were the victims as bottom of the table Dublin Lions who took their first win of the season in a low scoring encounter in Dublin.

The warning signs were there. Despite Lions having released their remaining pro player, they had led Killester until mid-fourth quarter on the road in the same scenario the previous week. Throughout the league, they have given teams problems, particularly at home in Colaiste Bride, and their tightened rotations had focussed them on a “backs to the wall” approach with a clear plan on how to try to steal a win.

The game was an ugly affair. Lions packed the lane, and challenged Moycullen to break down their zone defence. Big James Gormally sat at the hoop, protecting the rim and hoovering up any missed Moycullen shots, of which there were many. Moycullen ran their sets and found plenty of open looks, but could not buy a basket early on. As happens, the more they missed, the smaller the basket appeared to get, and the more the players began to second guess shot attempts.

At the other end, Lions were slightly more productive and, with their size, were crashing the board hard and thus limiting Moycullen’s ability to fast break and beat the zone down the court. Half-time saw Lions lead 27-21, and although six points looked far from insurmountable, in the context of the game, it was a decent lead.

The game was arguably decided at the start of the second half. Lions went on a 9-0 run where Moycullen’s offensive woes continued. Suddenly, the gap was out to 15 and Moycullen were in big trouble. The previous week they had shot Star out of their zone; this week they could never find that rhythm to do the same. Credit though, from there to the end, they continued to battle and try to eat into the lead. They forced a series of turnovers and got the deficit down to 9/10 a couple of times, but the points to save the game just would not come. A 48 points reflects where the game was decided.

A frustrated coach John Cunningham was disappointed, but realistic afterwards.

“I’m happy for Robbie and Dublin Lions as I remember well our own first ever win in Superleague, but obviously we didn’t want it to be against us.

“From our point of view, it’s pretty simple. When we don’t make shots, we can’t win, regardless of the opposition, and that was the case today. We’re back in Kingfisher next week with Garveys Warriors, Tralee, in town, and I’m confident we’ll put Saturday behind us and do our best to take down another league leader.”


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