Basketball Ireland Super League

Belfast Star 81 DBS Éanna 70

BELFAST Star produced their best performance of the season over Conference-topping DBS Éanna to secure their place in the Super League playoffs with still three games to play.

The victory makes it five wins on the trot for Adrian Fulton’s side who are currently displaying the hot form that helped them lift the last Super League title. 

Star remain second in the Northern Conference behind Éanna, however, but will have a chance to draw level on points when the sides meet again this Saturday night in Dublin in a game re-arranged from earlier in the season.

Fulton himself will miss that game as he will be on duty as Assistant Coach to the Irish national side who clash with Switzerland and Cyprus this week so Gerard Ryan will take the reins for what promises to be another mouth-watering clash.

After Saturday’s win in a packed La Salle gym, Fulton was delighted to have secured the playoff berth with three games to spare.

“We knew going into the game that we have three very difficult away fixtures to finish conference play, so it was crucial to secure the win,” he said.

“DBS Éanna have shown all season that they are an excellent side, so it is hugely encouraging for us to get over the line against them. We are now in the position where we want to go and win our Conference. But it's great that there are so many teams capable of winning the title, as it makes for a really exciting finish to the season.” 

Éanna were first to score on Saturday via a three-pointer from talented Ramonn Nelson but Star responded with a nine-point flurry courtesy of Shon Briggs and Max Cooper that established a pattern for the rest of the game. Briggs’ fellow American Austin Beech hit five late in the quarter to ease Star 23-15 ahead.

Returning captain Conor Johnstone landed a couple of trademark three-pointers to stretch the lead to 12 early in the second while the visitors continued to struggle with the on-song Star defence. The margin was ten points at the half: 45-35.

Éanna edged the scoring in the third and always threatened a comeback but with Conor Quinn, Cooper and Briggs all continuing to find their touch it was a dominant display from the home side.

The highlight of the night came late in the game from Beech who quelled a six-point run from Éanna and had the crowd on their feet with a dazzling, dunking eight-point burst in the final moments. 

Star still have three tough away games to go before the League enters its playoff stages and they will want to secure as many wins as possible to guarantee home court advantage in the quarter-finals and then the semi-finals if they make it to the last four.

Top scorers for Star were: Shon Briggs (19), Max Cooper (18), and Conor Quinn (17).