The Midlands Select U-15 Girls travelled to the University of Ulster, Jordanstown over the weekend to take part in the first #SHEHOOPS Basketball Tournament.
The Midlands played Liffey Celtics from Dublin in their first game and after a slow start came out on top 39-28 with some excellent performances from Claire Melia, Meave Phelan and Shauna Vandendries with Claire Melia top scoring with a total of 22 points.
The next pool game was against Basketball Northern Ireland Sparks with the winner would progressing to the Cup Final. The Midlands girls really got their act together and played fantastically as a team. Kaitlyn Weldon, Chloe Breen and Sophie Devereux were superb inside taking big rebounds and making it very hard for the BNI post players to score inside.
Claire Melia was superb on the perimeter controlling the game at the point guard spot and was ably assisted by Meave Phelan, Shauna Vandendries, Naomi Luttrell and Orla Mullally, all of whom put in a great shift on both ends of the floor.
It was Melia again top scoring with 23 points as the Midlands girls ran out winners 41-25 and in so doing reached the Cup Final against Basketball Northern Ireland Liberty.
With the U-15 Girls Cup Final being the Showpiece of the weekend it was a fantastic achievement for the Midlands Girls to reach Final.
BNI Liberty have three current U-16 Irish Internationals on their team and it was always going to be a tough ask but the Midlands Girls were ready for a fight and were ready to give it everything they had to win the game.
With some great defence and control on offence the Midlands were on level terms at 8-8 going into the second quarter. Orla Mullally was given the job of marking BNI’s Anna Maguire and held her scoreless when she was on the floor.
Claire Melia was again showing her class with some superb rebounding and driving to the basket and Meave Phelan was also chipped in with some important scores to keep the Midlands in touch. A big three pointer from Sophie Devereux left the midlands girls trailing by three points with two minutes to go to half time and with Weldon and Breen playing hard inside, the travelling team were still in with a shout of winning the game.
BNI scored five unanswered points leading up to halftime and this was to be the turning point in the game. After a tough third quarter in which Melia and Phelan did all they could to keep the Midlands in the game, BNI added another four points to their lead and were 12 points up heading into the final quarter.
As much as Melia, Phelan, Vandendries and all the girls from the Midlands tried, they could not come back from this deficit and even though they went down showing fantastic heart the BNI girls were just to strong and ended up winning 48-33.
Considering these girls have only been together for three weeks and have only had four training sessions this was a superb performance from all the girls involved. With players from four different clubs, Panthers, Kestrels, Tullamore and Clonaslee, the future looks bright for the Midlands girls and the experience alone will stand to the girls when they go forward to represent their region in the future.
With five players picked for and All Star Team, the Midlands were delighted to have the superb Claire Melia picked as an All Star and this award was richly deserved.
Midlands U-15 Girls: Claire Melia (Capt) (Kestrels), Shauna Vandendries (Capt) (Kestrels), Meave Phelan (Panthers), Chloe Breen (Clonaslee), Sophie Devereux (Kestrels), Ellen Dunphy (Panthers), Rebecca Rigney (Clonaslee), Kaitlyn Weldon (Kestrels), Maisie Currams (Tullamore), Orla Mullally (Kestrels), Naomi Luttrell (Kestrels), Erone Fitzpatrick (Panthers), Jenny O’Neill (Panthers), Rebecca O’Mahoney (Tullamore), Aoibheann O’Mahoney (Tullamore), Eva Galvin (Kestrels), Rachel Dunne (Tullamore). Coach: Martin Conroy IT Carlow. Assistant Coach: Jack Scully, Panthers. Team Managers: Emma Scully and Amy Dunphy,Panthers.