Irish Basketball Super League

Belfast Star 90-81 Moycullen

Belfast Star worked their way back to joint-top of the Irish Super League last weekend alongside Éanna and Maree thanks to a tough win over bottom-of-the-table side Moycullen of Galway.

The visitors, with a number of players back into their side, may have started as rank outsiders but they put it up to Adrian Fulton’s men throughout in a high-scoring battle that saw the lead change hands no fewer than 14 times.

The victory for Star gets them back in the hunt for home advantage in the playoffs after their fourth-quarter collapse against Éanna two weeks previously, and Éanna’s subsequent loss to Tralee at the weekend.

Star were quick out of the blocks in the first quarter with Max Cooper and Max Richardson combining for 18 points that saw the home side take a 23-19 lead into the second.

Shon Briggs then sparked into life with a ten-point burst but Star knew they were in for a tough challenge by half-time with the visitors scoring well across their side to nip in front at times and then hold it to 37-apiece at the break.

Briggs remained dominant in the third quarter, scoring 15 points, but Moycullen’s Liberatore Dargam matched him all the way to keep things on a knife edge going into the final quarter with Star ahead by one, 66-65.

The athletic Max Richardson proved to be Star’s ace in the fourth, pushing the home side into a lead that they were to hold. His ten points in the final ten minutes proved too much for the visitors and Star were relieved to make it to the buzzer on a final score line of 90-81.

Star coach Fulton was happy with his side’s performance, especially after the disappointing loss to Éanna.

“Yes, that loss to Éanna hit us hard because we were in control of the game and then it just unravelled,” he said.

“Things can change very quickly in basketball, we all know that but it was concerning that our offence dried up. So, we had a really good chat about it and got some answers. The guys have to realise that their concentration levels under pressure have to be better if we’re going to win play-off battles.

“So, in that context, I’m very pleased with that win over Moycullen. To be honest, the game went as expected in many ways with Moycullen playing well and really putting it up to us. Despite their league position, Moycullen have a good team and we always expected them to come with a strong, battling underdogs mentality.

“We gave up 28 points in the third quarter which is way too many but the boys knuckled down in the fourth and showed the character and composure that we need to win close games. Shon Briggs, Max Richardson and Max Cooper all had big games for us tonight.”

Top scorers for Star were Shon Briggs on 31 points, Max Cooper on 24 and Max Richardson with 20. Star return to action on Saturday week against Killester in La Salle. Tip-off is at 6.30pm.