A fantastic three wins for the Portlaoise Panthers U-14 leaves them at the top of the Midlands League. Wins over Athlone, Tullamore and Kestrels gives Portlaoise an excellent start to this season.
Portlaoise played Athlone in the first game and from the start Portlaoise were the stronger of the two teams. Portlaoise used their size advantage with Rian O Connell and Stephen McCabe getting some early baskets. Portlaoise moved the ball extremely well and this led to some fast break baskets from Niall Carey and Darren Moore. Dylan Phelan was well composed on the point and made some excellent passes which lead to some more scores for Portlaoise.
Athlone never gave up and didn’t let Portlaoise away with everything, and they punished them when they made mistakes. Portlaoise pushed on from where they left off with some excellent movement inside from Trevor Swayne and Pierce Bolger Hinds. Portlaoise continued to move the ball well and it left Gary Morrissey and James Phelan to hit their shots.
Colm Byrne played some excellent defence while pulling numerous rebounds which didn’t give Athlone any second chances. Portlaoise pushed the tempo and never let Athlone back into the game. Portlaoise showed their strength with Ben O Reilly and Mark Vesey coming off the bench at the start of the second half and making direct impact. Portlaoise worked well as a whole and they ran out comfortable winners in the end.
Portlaoise faced Tullamore in the second game of the day. Portlaoise controlled the game from the start. Portlaoise played a different style in this game. It was a much slower game but their movement and passing allowed them to take the best option. Phelan and O Connell dominated the first quarter scoring numerous baskets.
But it wasn’t just the offence, their defence was excellent and they didn’t allow Tullamore to get to many second opportunities to make baskets.
Once again Portlaoise used their size advantage with Swayne and Bolger Hinds working well together to expand the Panthers lead. Overall it was an excellent team performance with all players getting on the score sheet. Portlaoise won the match which set up an extremely important match against Kestrels.
The final match of the day saw the Panthers lining out against a strong Kestrels team. From the beginning the match was very intense. Kestrels match the Panthers for size and gave Portlaoise an excellent game inside. In the first quarter the Panthers looked toward O’Connell for the scores.
The defence for both teams was excellent. Kestrels ended the first quarter leading by one point. Portlaoise started the second quarter the better with Swayne hitting a couple of vital shots. But the Panthers defence was extremely impressive restricting Kestrels to only one point in the quarter.
All five players worked extremely well and pushed on to lead by ten at half time. But Kestrels were never out of the game and Portlaoise knew that.
The second half was an intense half of basketball with both teams trading baskets but Portlaoise maintained the lead. O’Connell once again getting some vital baskets for his team, but these opportunities were given to him from the hard work of three guards.
Kestrels made a push in the last quarter with Adam Ryan getting some fine baskets for them, but the Panthers were just too strong in the end. It was an excellent result for the Panthers and leaves them undefeated in the league.
The day was a great success for the Panthers and leaves them at the top of the league after six games. There was great support shown for the lads from the entire club. Thanks to all who travel to Portarlington on Sunday to support the team.