Basketball Ireland SuperLeague

Neptune 72-65 Belfast Star

After last Saturday’s loss away to Neptune, Belfast Star makes another trip to Cork this weekend when they will face a strong and improving Demons side.

It will be a third road fixture in a row for Adrian Fulton’s squad and they will be desperate to avoid a third defeat on the bounce, having also fallen to Sligo All Stars two weeks ago.

With just two games of the regular season to go, Star can still cement home advantage in the League play-off quarter-final but it’s likely that they will need to snatch a victory in Cork to secure it followed by a home win over Templeogue when they return to fortress La Salle where they remain unbeaten this season.

Star still sit at the top of the League’s Northern Conference but are now joined there by Dublin’s Éanna, both sides with a 12-5 record. 

Last weekend’s game in Cork was a tough low-scoring affair with Star having to work hard to stay in touch with the home side for large parts of the game. Defences were certainly to the fore throughout and Star’s final tally was well below their season average.

The game began with a fine triple from Shon Briggs before strong play from the Lee-siders drove them to a 20-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.

New American Pierre Carter showed well for Star in the second and his three-pointer levelled the scores at 33-apiece before a Ferguson two edged the home side in front at the half, 35-33.

Conor Quinn tripled at the beginning of the third to put Star ahead once more and it then remained nip and tuck throughout the quarter. Good three-pointers from Carter and rising star Darragh Ferguson helped Star remain very much in the contest going into the fourth, 53-51 to Neptune.

Liam Pettigrew then quickly levelled the game for the visitors but Neptune proved to be that bit stronger going down the stretch and they gradually pulled away in the end to take the win, 72-65.

Despite the loss, Star coach Adrian Fulton remained optimistic of his side’s prospects in the play-offs.

 “Of course, it was disappointing to lose this one but it came down to very fine margins,” he said.

“We were strong again defensively throughout but weren’t just as clinical as them offensively in the final few minutes and that’s the way it goes sometimes.

“If we can sharpen up that touch more on offence in the final two games  I do believe we can look forward to the playoffs with confidence and I certainly think that this side has it in them to win the title.” 

Americans Shon Briggs and Pierre Carter top scored for Star on 18 and 14 respectively with Conor Quinn and Max Richardson hitting nine apiece.

Star face Demons in Cork on Sunday afternoon, followed by their final regular season League game against Templeogue on Saturday 11 March.