Saturday last saw the huge rivalry between Portlaoise and Kestrels from Portarlington continue.
It was the game that we had been waiting for since the Midland League began this season and it did not fail the hype and expectation.
Both teams were very nervous to begin and there were some very uncharacteristic mistakes at both ends of the court.
Portlaoise opened the scoring with some very patient play with Claire Melia at the end of a great pass from Shauna Vandendries. The Kestrels girls quickly responded with a good fast break and then added an extra two points after some sloppy play from Portlaoise.
After a timeout from Kestrels and both teams getting some guidance from their respective coaches the game started to liven up. Portlaoise started to settle on offense and work the ball around to create some well worked scores.
Sekenat Shabowole got a great steal and put Portlaoise four points up. This lead was short lived as Kestrels capitalised on some misses from Portlaoise and levelled the game at 16 points each at the half.
The third quarter was like starting the game over again with the two teams tied at the start. This was definitely the turning point of the game. Aine Nash got two brilliant steals and scored one and the second was rebounded and put in.
Orla Donovan got some great defensive and offensive rebounds which helped Portlaoise to build up an eight point lead.
At this point Kestrels struggled to cope with the pressure from Portlaoise resulting in some wayward fouls which allowed Portlaoise to extend their lead.
The last quarter continued in the same manner with Portlaoise adding to their lead and Kestrels unable to respond.
Jennifer O’Neill was very strong on defence and was very unlucky not to score. The game finished with an 18 point win for Portlaoise with a final scoreline of 42-24. Portlaoise showed some great team play, heart and determination.
Thanks to Seamus Dooley who was drafted in as assistant coach on the day with his expertise invaluable.
Team: Shauna Vandendries, Briana McCann, Orla Donovan, Claire Melia, Aine Nash, Sekenat Shabowole, Jennifer O’Neill, Ellen Dunphy, Rebecca Grant, Allana Donnelly, Maeve Mannion, Cliodhna Nic Ghearailt.