Basketball Ireland U18 Girls' National Cup
Belfast was awash with basketball teams at the weekend. From Kerry, Cork, Galway, Cavan and Dublin they came to take part in Pool 2 of the Girls’ U18 National Cup round-robin series.
But it was the home side, Belfast Star, who enjoyed a dominant weekend as they emerged winners of Pool, remaining unbeaten throughout.
Eight teams in total from across Ireland had converged on the gyms at St Malachys and Methodist College to fight for the right to go through to the competition’s quarter-finals proper.
Star began strongly in Methody with a comfortable win over Malahide, 60-37. The girls then transferred to the St Malachy’s gym to take on Team Kerry Bobcats.
This was a tougher test for the Belfast girls who were coached by Adrian Fulton and Lexi Posset. But, in setting up a pattern for their remaining games, the home side eventually came from behind to defeat the team from Killarney 65-53.
Star went into their final game of Saturday hoping to top their group. Again, they faced another strong Kerry side in the shape of St Mary’s of Castleisland and, once more, began slowly before coming strong in the second half to win 70-51.
Sunday afternoon saw Star’s biggest test yet when they faced East Cavan Eagles in the semi-finals. The Virginia side dominated from early on and had led by 11 points in the final quarter before the home team somehow summoned up the will to make it a third comeback win on the trot.
After a nail-biting and astoundingly passionate game, the home support was mightily relieved to rise in a standing ovation for the gutsy performance of the side. Final score: Star 78, East Cavan Eagles 75.
Just chillin'. Final moments of our final game in the U18 National Cup Pool 2 Final. After all the hard work, and a few big comebacks against terrific teams, our girls can finally relax and reflect on a '5-outta-5' Weekend. Well done! pic.twitter.com/X40wx0Qmzd— Belfast Star (@BelfastStar64) November 13, 2022
Sunday evening then saw Star take on Kerry Bobcats in the final. This time, the home side had the measure of their opponents from the start and went on to a comfortable victory at 75-43. And that victory guaranteed home-court advantage in the upcoming quarter-finals proper.
The Star coaching team will look forward to their All-Ireland quarter-final berth knowing that there is a lot of scoring power in their side – plus a resilience too that they never quite know when they are defeated.
Star seniors hope to click back into gear for UCD game
Basketball Ireland Super League
Killester 76-65 Belfast Star
It was a very disappointing performance for Star’s senior men last weekend when they fell to a strong Killester side fronted by former player Paul Dick.
Indeed, Dick dominated the game from the moment he hit four quick points in the opening minutes. His accuracy and guile across the four quarters meant Star were chasing the game throughout.
A flurry of late scores by American Shon Briggs left the final score a little healthier looking than it was in reality and the Belfast side will quickly need to find their form again this weekend when UCD Marian will be the visitors to La Salle.
🤩 A big win for @KillesterBball, beating @BelfastStar64 76-65. Paul Dick starred in an impressive Killester performance with 24 points.— Basketball Ireland (@BballIrl) November 12, 2022
📺 WATCH back in https://t.co/HqBGMOARHu#BISL pic.twitter.com/xRLPeTZkzb
Briggs hit 25 points on the night but the rest of the side struggled to get near the basket. Both Max Cooper and Max Richardson had off-nights and more will be expected of them when they line up against Marian this weekend.
Assistant Coach Gerard Ryan was naturally disappointed with the performance: “It was a game where we failed to match both the guile of Paul Dick and also the overall physicality of the Killester side.
“Hopefully, this can be the clarion call we need to improve collectively and move forward without having to grind out each and every result,” he said.
The game against UCD Marian tips at 6.30pm on Saturday in La Salle.