On Saturday night Team Coppers welcomed Old Leighlin to St Marys for their latest Midland League game.
Portlaoise Panthers 79
Old Leighlin 68
A win was vital if they wanted to keep there hopes of making the Division 1 Top 4 alive. In the return fixture in Old Leighlin, Team Coppers suffered a heavy defeat so the boys really needed to perform.
The first quarter started at a hectic pace, each team ran the ball at every opportunity. Chris Higgins and Denis Curtin proved once again that their fitness and speed are a match for any team in the league. Curtin caused Old Leighlin to turn the ball over on three occasions and finished the fast breaks strongly, ending the quarter with eight points.
Also on the score sheet in this quarter were Jack Scully and his cousin Chris Higgins. Old Leighlin on the other hand got five players on the score sheet in the quarter and finished the quarter leading 15-14. It was already evident at this early stage that the referees were going to play a huge part in this game with a lot of fouls being committed by both sides.
In the second quarter Team Coppers coach Benny O’Donovan ran the bench. It showed that Coppers have a very good squad of players. Jack Dooley and Evan Maher who are 17 and 18 respectively came into the game and showed they are more than capable of playing at this level.
Both players got on the score sheet in the quarter. The Scully brothers, Craig and Jack, began to dominate the boards, good rebounds and quick passing from Craig Scully gave Higgins and Dooley some good fast break opportunities. Again Old Leighlin got into foul trouble and Coppers were clinical from the free throw line. Old Leighlin kept playing very physical basketball and went into half time 36-30 up.
The third quarter started at a frantic pace and Coppers gave it everything they had. They played good, smart basketball. They got there inside play going and this resulted in the Scully brothers combining for 15 points in the quarter. Also on the score sheet in this quarter were Curtin, Dooley and Higgins. Coppers scored 26 points in the quarter which saw them end the quarter leading 56-49.
As the fourth quarter got going Old Leighlin lost all their discipline, notching up a technical, two unsportmanlike and thirteen personal fouls. Team Coppers made them pay a heavy price from the line scoring nineteen free throws in the last quarter.
This is a terrific return by any standards, the old saying definitely was proven to be true in this match ‘free throws win or lose games’. Coppers went on to win on a scoreline 79-68. This was a huge victory for Team Coppers and keeps them in 2nd place in the league. Next up in the league is BC Svyturys this Friday at 9.15 in St Marys Hall and then against Athlone Saturday 16th at 6.15, also in St Mary’s.
Team Coppers: Jack Scully, Craig Scully, Denis Curtin, Chris Higgins, Jack Dooley, Jamie Dooley, Sean O’Neill, David Glynn, Evan Maher, Neil Fennell, Alan Buckley. Coach: Benny O’Donovan.