Irish Basketball Super League
UCD Marian 60-83 Belfast Star
Belfast Star remain top of the pile in the Super League Northern Conference after they defeated bottom club UCD Marian in Dublin last Saturday.

However, this weekend’s home game in La Salle against Cork’s Ballincollig will undoubtedly be a bigger challenge for Adrian Fulton’s side as their hope of silverware still remains very much alive.
Marian took to the UCD court without some key players on Saturday, including talisman Jon Jean. But even with a full complement the Dubliners would have been hard-pressed to cope with Star’s dominant performance. 

In the absence of Max Cooper – who appears to be out for the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder - it was Max Richardson who led the Star offense with a barnstorming 33 points, 23 of which he hit in the first half alone.

Richardson’s tally helped to drive Star to a 27-16 point lead at the end of the first quarter, which they then extended to a full 20-point lead at the half, 47-27.

Such was the Star dominance that Fulton could afford to give his bench an extended run in quarters three and four.

That third quarter became a dogged and low-scoring affair before Star upped the ante again in the fourth to take the victory by 23 points in the end, 83-60.

Speaking after the win, Coach Fulton said: “I thought we did a very professional job tonight. Our starting five got off well on the front foot. Max Richardson had a great game and our bench really helped.

 “It’s clear, though, that we are going to need all hands on deck for the remainder of the campaign – especially our Irish players – starting with a tough home game next week against Ballincollig.” 

Coach Fulton has admired the prowess of Englishman Richardson right throughout the season, and what he brings to both the court and to training.

“When I got word that there was a chance to sign Max, I actually messaged a friend of mine who has coached a lot in England,” he revealed.

“He simply texted back saying ‘you can’t go wrong’. He was right of course because Max has been great for us, definitely one of our most consistent performers.”

“There’s one thing to have talent but it’s also important to fit into a team. We had quite a few guys coming back this year and Max came in and just settled perfectly into the chemistry of the side. He’s a great team-mate and is very coachable.”

While the whole squad was left gutted by the horror injury to Max Cooper, point guard Conor Quinn is quick to point out that they have developed a togetherness that will hopefully drive them on as the play-offs start to loom on the horizon.

“What happened to Max was a huge blow because he has been the focal point of our offense and he’s a close friend” he said.

“But I do feel that we are really in sync now as a team. We are more consistent and our good passages of play are lasting longer. We’re ready for the big challenges ahead.”

Richardson led the Star scoring with 33 points in Dublin followed by Shon Briggs on 13 and Oisin Kerlin with 10. Star versus Ballincollig tips at 6.30pm this Saturday in the La Salle gym.