Portlaoise Panthers Ladies travelled to Limerick on Sunday evening hoping to add to their victory last weekend. Both sides are set to meet in the same venue in two weeks time in the National Cup so there was a lot to take from a good performance and a win.
Portlaoise Panthers 78
Limerick Celtics 55
National League Ladies Division 1
Portlaoise Panthers can be delighted to take both from the game as they put another three points on the board to go to the top of the Southern Conference, albeit with an extra game played.
Portlaoise raced into an early lead as they took the Celtics by surprise with a full court man to man press. Ciara Wheeler hit a lovely long two pointer and great pressure on the guards forced two turnovers and Ciara Byrne and Trudy Walker made it 6-0 early on.
Panthers were patient in their build up and continued to find the open shot and Ciara Wheeler obliged with a three pointer to extend the lead further. Maeve O’Sullivan added the next two baskets before Trudy Walker showed her athleticism under the basket notching up six points.
Portlaoise were well in control and Jasmine Burke, Sarah Fleming and Ciara Wheeler finished off the scoring leaving the visitors ahead on a scoreline of 28-8.
Shauna Burke picked up the first points of the second quarter as she backed down her defender making the basket while going to the line to finish off her hard work.
Trudy Walker was having another brilliant half as she filled up the stats sheet with steals, rebounds and added another six points to her tally.
Deirdre Tomlinson linked up well with Walker as she drove centre and dished off for a great assist. Ciara Byrne was also in a determined mood as she punished the Celtics turnovers on the break.
Early foul trouble in the quarter for the home side allowed Portlaoise the opportunity of heading to the line and Sarah Fleming took full advantage. She gave her side a half-time lead of 46-21.
The third quarter was a close affair as the Celtics big American came to life scoring ten points while showing her ability to score from a number of positions on the floor.
Portlaoise remained in the right mind frame and continued to break out from their defence and finish strongly to the basket, Fleming, Wheeler and Byrne the beneficiaries. Gillian Wheeler came off the bench to add a big three pointer to leave the scores at 63-37 at the end of the third.
Limerick Celtics started the final quarter with a big three from American point guard Emily Tinnes which lifted the spirits of the home crowd.
Portlaoise changed up their defence and unfortunately they left openings on the perimeter which Celtics began to take advantage of. Seven points from Aoife Morrissey was followed up by a further two three pointers from Bradbury and Tinnes.
But for every score Portlaoise had one of their own and finished strongly with O’Sullivan, Walker, Wheeler, Byrne and Fleming all getting in on the act in the last quarter to take the win on a scoreline of 78-55.
The ladies will welcome Belfast Rockets to St Mary's Hall on Saturday night at 6pm which will form part of this season’s first double header with the Mens team.