Portlaoise Panthers U18 boys team had a very busy week of basketball this week as they played three games between the Midlands League and Kilkenny League.
They kicked off on Tuesday night when they hosted a strong Kilkenny Stars team. Portlaoise got off to a slow start falling behind early on in the game but after a timeout the lads came out fighting, rapidly decreasing the lead of kilkenny and ending the first quarter up by two points.
With the momentum behind Portlaoise Shane Maughan showed his class with strong play leading to easy baskets on the break from great passing by Benny Carroll. Hugh Hackett also showed form with his shooting touch which increased Portlaoise’s already impressive lead.
Kilkenny came out of half time with a point to prove and clawed back but Portlaoise kept composure with Tiernan Dempsey and Conor O’Donavan showing great teamwork in the post leading to easy scores for both as Portlaoise sealed another impressive win.
The team then travelled to Tullamore to play the third series of games in the Midland League with two tough games against rivals Kestrels and Tullamore.
The first game of the day was against Kestrels which was a key game in the battle for top position. The first quarter started at a high pace which would shape the rest of the game as Portlaoise and Kestrels traded baskets with Benny Carroll and Shane Maughan leading the offense. It was the defensive effort of Portlaoise which forced Kestrels into alot of turnovers.
It was then Portlaoise’s turn to take the lead with Tiernan Dempsey and Hugh Hackett scoring the ball well along with strong efforts from Conor O’Donavan who finished off impressively.
The second half was another close contest with Kestrels taking an early lead but was cut down quickly with Carroll and Maughan again combining. The boys entered the fourth five points down but showed great heart and fight as they levelled the game with only two minutes to go.
Things just didnt go Portlaoise’s way and in the end Kestrels just saw things off winning by five points.
The lads picked their heads up for the second game as they knew a win was needed to keep their hands on second place. Portlaoise continued with their great play as they dominated the game and showed their depth as Barry McNicholl and Shane San Augustin came into the team and played very well with both scoring fine baskets and Ryan Fitzpatrick playing hard defense. The team won with a convincing 11 point win.
Portlaoise Panthers Team: Benny Caroll, Tiernan Dempsey, Shane Maughan, Conor O’Donavan, Hugh Hackett, Barry McNicholl, Shane San Augustin, Ryan Fitzpatrick.