Irish Basketball Super League 

Belfast Star 101 UCC Demons 84

De’Ondre Jackson put on a stellar show last Saturday in New Forge Arena as his stunning 45-point total enabled Belfast Star to finally wrap up the Northern Conference title and now look forward to home advantage in the Super League play-offs.

Jackson’s performance befitted the Player of the Month title he had just collected for his February displays and he further underlined his form by also picking up 10 rebounds on the night alongside fellow American Tamyrik Fields.

Indeed, it wasn’t just Jackson’s massive overall tally that impressed, but also the efficiency with which he shot (13 two-pointers from 17 attempts and four from eight on three-point attempts). 

Star’s push for the Northern Conference title had looked to be a nailed-on certainty for several months but it was only mathematically confirmed on Saturday with one more home game still to come. That will be in New Forge this Saturday evening against Dublin’s Éanna who, alongside Ballincollig last weekend, have been the only two sides to inflict a League loss on Star this season.

Star’s other loss, of course, had been in the National Cup when they fell to Saturday’s opponents Demons who then went on to collect the trophy. And while revenge wasn’t a focus for Star, they will be well satisfied that they have returned to form and emerged victorious on their own court, maintaining their impressive home form.

Demons began Saturday’s game with a straight six-point flourish that suggested they would continue where they left off in the cup clash.

Jackson then hit his first three of the night to get Star on the scoreboard but the visitors pressed well and stayed in front for the game’s first five minutes. Jackson then edged Star in front at 17-15 and sparked a 14-8 run that eventually saw the home side end the first 29-23 ahead.

Demons kept the game alive during the second and third quarters but with Adrian Fulton’s side constantly having slightly the better of the scoring in an open and flowing game, a home win was never seriously threatened.

Star took the final three quarters by slim margins but it was enough to drive them to a 101-84 win with the game well in the bag by that point.

Star’s head coach Adrian Fulton will naturally have been pleased with the solid performance, not least the fact that his side avoided any lapse of concentration that had seen previous games prove tougher than they ought to have been. 

While Jackson’s 45-point double-double was the big talking point of the night, Star also got a huge performance from Albanian international Frenki Lelaj who hit 17 points to go with his nine rebounds.

Indeed, the form of big-man Lelaj since the mid-point of the season has been a massive boost for Star and they will have been mightily relieved that he was able to put in such a strong performance after limping out of the previous week’s game against Ballincollig.

Top scorers for Star were De’Ondre Jackson on 45, Frenki Lelaj on 17, Tamyrik Fields on 15 and Max Richardson on 11. Saturday’s game against Éanna tips at 6.30pm in New Forge Arena.