Irish Basketball Super League

Belfast Star 90-83 Killester

Belfast Star travel to play UCD Marian in Dublin this weekend having regained sole leadership position at the top of the Northern Conference in this year’s hotly contested National Super League.

On Saturday last, a packed La Salle gym was treated to possibly the best game of the year so far when Star stormed to a crucial win over Killester, reversing the away result from earlier in the season. The victory was important because a loss for Star would have seen Killester edge ever closer to them in the League play-off positions.

The game proved costly for Star though with talisman Max Cooper forced to leave the game early with a dislocated shoulder after an accidental collision with Star old-boy Paul Dick in the first quarter. It remains to be seen how long Cooper will be out of the game.

Star began the game brightly and a nine-point run early in the first saw them take a 16-6 lead but Killester brought it back to just four points at the break, 26-22 to the home side. The second quarter was also edged by Star to leave it 51-43 at the completion of a high-scoring and entertaining first half.

The most telling action of the game then came in the first two minutes of the third quarter. Shon Briggs immediately battled his way through for two points and this was quickly followed by a nine-point home salvo with three-pointers from Max Richardson and Aidan Quinn (two).

Suddenly the home side were a full 19 points clear but the talented Killester team regained their poise and battled back with their own seven-point blast to end the quarter 69-59 to Star.

Killester pressed strongly at the beginning of the fourth but huge defence from big men Oisin Kerlin and Liam Pettigrew helped Star withstand the assault and then ease their way to the victory, 90-83.

Outstanding for the home side were the twins Aidan and Conor Quinn, plus team captain Conor Johnston. And Oisin Kerlin gave probably his finest minutes in the Star shirt this year.

Belfast Star head coach Adrian Fulton said that the performance gives his side confidence that they can compete with anyone in the country. After they lost Cooper, Fulton praised the team effort in digging deep to grind out the win. 

“That was a great battle between two good teams and we were delighted to come out on top,” he said.

“We had lots of good individual performances and our bench was terrific. Max Cooper, after starting the game really well, dislocated his shoulder. We got him straight to hospital but we just don't know how long a recovery process it will be, but clearly, we are all hoping and praying that he will be okay.

“Shon Briggs was very good yet again but Max Richardson who has been great for us this season on and off the court got in foul trouble by the third. So it was really up to our home-based players to step up and they did.

“In particular, the Quinns, Oisin Kerlin and Conor Johnston all played a big part in the victory. But all 11 on our roster played and they all contributed so that's very encouraging.” 

Top scorers for Star were Conor Quinn on 22, Shon Briggs on 21 and both Aidan Quinn and Oisin Kerlin on 12 points each. Saturday’s game with UCD Marian tips at 7pm and is available on Basketball Ireland TV.

Meanwhile, in Division One, Ulster University maintained their purple patch with an 80-75 victory at home to Drogheda Wolves.