Tullamore run champions close in basketball league opener
The Tullamore Senior Basketball team began their The 2017/18 Midlands Senior Basketball League campaign with a first round clash against last year's cup champions Portlaoise.
The Tullamore girls were hoping to build on last season where they competed at this level for the first time in eight years. This game was played in the Mountmellick CC gym on Sunday evening and provided some great entertainment right from the off where Katie Guinan hit her side's first 5 points fresh from playing an Under 18 game earlier in the day.
Both sides traded baskets early on with Katie and Aoibheann O Mahoney hitting threes over the Portlaoise zone defence. Portlaoise kept in touch by consistently putting the ball inside to their dominant post player Shauna Burke who was a thorn in the side of Tullamore throughout. Tullamore countered with strong basket cuts from the likes of Claire McIntyre. The first quarter ended all square 13 points each.
The pattern of the second quarter followed the first with Tullamore hitting perimeter threes from Aoibheann O Mahoney and Jennifer Glavin and Portlaoise replying through Burke and her Post partner Anna Connolly.
Howell sisters Treasa and Caitriona were having a strong influence on defence for Tullamore and they both chipped in with two points each also. Scores remained close right until the half time buzzer with Portlaoise leading 27-26.
The third quarter was a scrappy affair as both sides fouled a lot and forced each other to make free throws. In fact all of Tullamore's seven points came from the free throw line with Patrice Howell and Gemma Prendergast making it look easy.
Portlaoise were now in a man to man defence and struggled coping with the Tullamore drives. At the end of the third the scores were deadlocked again, 34 apiece.
The final quarter saw Portlaoise forcing the issue and they got their rewards with five minutes left when they took a six point lead.
Tullamore did not quit though and came back with a nice shot from Rebecca O Mahoney and three on the trot from Irene Wallace.
With one minute and twenty seconds on the clock the gap was down to three points but credit to Portlaoise, they drew the fouls to force the lead out to seven at the final buzzer. This result was a good start nevertheless for Tullamore, who will take confidence from this for their National Cup encounter, again with Portlaoise, at the beginning of November.
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