Basketball Ireland Super League
Belfast Star 90-67 Bright's St Vincent's
Belfast Star got their Super League season off to a very stylish start on Saturday evening with a highly fluid win over Dublin visitors Bright’s St Vincent’s in La Salle.
The flowing home performance is certain to give Adrian Fulton’s side plenty of confidence as they head south to face Tralee Warriors this weekend, a tough fixture this season for any side visiting the reigning champions.
While the packed house in La Salle were in raptures over Star’s performance, coach Fulton was a little more cautious.
“Overall, of course, we’re very pleased with our display against a St Vincent's team who had plenty of talent," he said.
"But it’s the beginning of the season and ultimately, I suppose, we’re quite a bit from where we need to be. And that’s to be expected at this stage of the season.
“But it's a good start and winning home games will be crucial in such a tough conference. It’s very difficult to pick out any individual performances after that game, as we got huge contributions across the board.”
Fulton would have been delighted though with the displays from Max Cooper and Shon Briggs as well as debutant Max Richardson.
The three combined for more than 60 points on the evening and didn’t need to be over-used as Star ran their bench well as they eased past the visitors.
While Cooper and Briggs are well known to the Star fans for the efforts last season, Richardson proved an instant hit with the home support. The rangy forward was comfortable both at the low post and when taking on a range of three-pointers.
It's a family affair! One of the most impressive performances last night came from Conor Johnston who was central to the best of the action throughout. He was in double digits as well including a couple of his trademark 3s! pic.twitter.com/Znvkgkvs2x— Belfast Star (@BelfastStar64) October 2, 2022
One of the biggest cheers of the evening was reserved for Aidan Quinn who returned after missing all of the ’21-’22 season with a serious knee injury sustained in the pre-game warm-up for last year’s league opener.
The former international was used sparingly by Fulton and will have been delighted with his safe return and contribution to the win.
Irish U20 international Darragh Ferguson showed why he is one of the hottest talents in the country right now. The 19-year-old was bursting with energy when he took to the floor and made a series of brilliant cuts each time he was introduced.
Club captain Conor Johnston enjoyed an excellent game throughout and brought a huge roar from the supporters when he converted a buzzer-beating three at the end of the third to put the game beyond St Vincent’s and allow his side to coast in the fourth.
Returning to the Star squad this year is giant centre Oisin Kerlin who showed that he will be a valuable asset on the boards this year. Kerlin also lit up the final quarter with a series of deft passes. Jack Summersgill is another returnee this year and the Lámh Dearg man certainly adds to the talent at Fulton’s disposal.
New point guard Jonathan James had to sit out this opening game as a result of the 30-day residency rule but he will be available for the Tralee trip at the weekend.
Top scorers for Star were Cooper and Richardson on 20 points, with Shon Briggs on 21.