The Portlaoise Panthers U-18 boys team.
The Portlaoise boys U-18 basketball team played host to local club Clonaslee on Sunday evening in the Midland Area League League.
Portlaoise Panthers 55
The first couple of minutes saw both defensive on top with both teams playing well to keep scores at a premium. The home team were slow to get on the scoresheet despite good performances from Tom Gbenoba and Aaron Murphy. They were eventually rewarded for their good work with baskets coming from Glen Comerford and Sam Wynne.
The last couple of minutes in the quarter saw the Panthers boy's up the tempo running the ball to finish with good baskets from Tom Gbenoba and Aaron Murphy to see them open a nine point lead.
The second quarter saw Portlaoise settle quickly with a couple of fine baskets from Rian O'Connell and and Pierce Bolger Hinds. They continued to dominate the quarter with strong defensive that turned over the ball on several occasions resulting in baskets from Trevor Swayne and James Phelan.
As the half-time whistle approached Portlaoise opened up a 19 point gap thanks to fine shooting including two threepointers from Gary Morrissey.
The second half saw the game open up into a good contest with both teams playing well, exchanging baskets, Portlaoise got scores through Glenn Comerford and Darragh Beere. As the quarter went on they upped the tempo again denying the Clonaslee lads scoring opportunities while at the other end they kept the scoreboard ticking over with good baskets from Gary Morrissey and Tom Gbenoba.
The last quarter saw both teams relax with the final outcome in little doubt, Portlaoise went on to run the ball at every opportunity resulting in baskets from Sam Wynne and Darragh Beere.
Clonaslee to their credit never gave up battling for every ball but in truth never really looked like they could bridge the gap as the Panthers lads finished the game strong with baskets coming Aaron Murphy and James Phelan who was top scorer of the game with 10 points to help their team go on to a well deserved win.
Portlaoise Team: Trevor Swayne, Rian O'Connell, Pierce Bolger Hinds, Gary Morrissey, Glenn Comerford, Sam Wynne, Conor Byrne, James Phelan, Aaron Murphy, Astijus Zemaitias, Tom Gbenoba, John Heffernan, Bright Osadolor. Coach: Alan Comerford.
The Portlaoise Panthers U-18 boys team played host to Kestrels at Portlaoise College last weekend in the Midland Area League League.
Portlaoise Panthers 57
Portarlington Kestrels 45
This is always a highly anticipated game between the two best teams at their age group for the past five or six years and in those years they have produced some of the best games ever seen in Midland juvenile basketball.
Kestrels started the better with the first couple of baskets but Portlaoise did not panic and continued to work hard through Trevor Swayne and Piece Bolger Hinds and eventually came into the game with a threepointer from Gary Morrissey followed up by baskets from Rian O'Connell.
As the quarter went on baskets were at a premium as both defensives were on top. The Portlaoise guards Gary Morrissey and James Phelan were putting in a huge workrate on the defensive but as the quarter came to a close Kestrels edged out in front to hold a two point lead despite good baskets from Conor Byrne and Rian O'Connell.
The second quarter saw the Panthers boy's up the tempo with quick movement of the ball to the open shooter for two early threepointers from Glen Comerford and Trevor Swayne. They started to dominate the game for the first time with captain Rian O'Connell leading by example taking the ball strong to the basket to get the next three scores.
Kestrels were also playing well creating many opportunities but failed to finish with the final shot and not scoring for a couple of minutes is all it takes at this level as the Panthers extended their lead with fine shooting from Conor Byrne and Trevor Swayne to see them hold an eight point lead at the half-time break, 25-17.
The second half saw both teams playing well, exchanging baskets, James Phelan got the first couple of baskets and they were followed with good shooting from Aaron Murphy to maintain the Panthers lead.
As the quarter went on, it was basket for basket, Gary Morrissey and Rian O'Connell scored for the home team. Kestrels were also playing well with some fine shooting of their own to keep them in touch.
The stand out performer in this game was the Panthers big man Rian O'Connell who dominated on his own board's and was eventually top scorer of the game with an excellent 17 points. The last couple of baskets of the quarter came from Gary Morrissey and Pierce Bolger Hinds to maintain the eight point Panthers lead.
The last quarter saw both teams running the floor at every opportunity to finish with good baskets, Trevor Swayne finished off with baskets after great work from Bright Osadolor and Tom Gbenoba.
As the quarter went on the Panthers lads upped the tempo again with strong defence to restrict the Kestrels boys to six points, and also followed up with two big three-pointers from Trevor Swayne and Rian O'Connell that told everybody in the gym who was going to win this game.
The Panthers lads did go on to control the game in the last few minutes to the delight of the home supporters as they went on to a well deserved 12 point win. Panthers coach Alan Comerford knows that it was not a classic game but was happy with the overall performance as his team continue to work towards next month's Top 4 finals.
Portlaoise Team: Trevor Swayne, Rian O'Connell, Pierce Bolger Hinds, Gary Morrissey, Glenn Comerford, Sam Wynne, Conor Byrne, James Phelan, Aaron Murphy, Tom Gbenoba, John Heffernan, Bright Osadolor. Coach: Alan Comerford.