The Panthers U-16 boy's basketball team played host to local neighbours Ballyroan Blue Stars in the Midlands Area league competition recently.
Portlaoise Panthers 42
Ballyroan Blue Stars 31
Midlands Area League U-16 Boys
The game started at a hectic pace with both teams playing well, exchanging baskets. Brochan O’Reilly got the Panthers off the mark with a couple of fine baskets. The game settled in a pattern with both teams playing strong zone defensive. Jack Byrne was next to put points on the scoreboard after great work from Aaron Dooley and Eoin Murphy. The Panthers lads were always a couple of scores in front in a quarter where the pace never slowed with both teams running the floor at every opportunity.
As the quarter came to a close Portlaoise extended their lead to 8 points thanks to some great defensive rebounding from Dylan Cahill and Jack Byrne while Cathal Mc Evoy put points on the scoreboard at the offensive end to leave the score at 16 points to 8 points at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter continued with these two excellent teams giving an exhibition of shooting, Brochan O Reilly hit a couple of fine shots followed by their big man Dylan Cahill, who was playing a Captain's part, after good work from Liam Callon and Eoin Murphy. As the quarter went on Ballyroan were playing well but were unlucky with the final shot.
Coach Jack Scully introduced a couple of fresh players Eamonn Raji and Eoin Bell to good effect as both quickly got to terms with the pace of the game to get a few great defensive stops. As the half-time whistle approached Ballyroan were always within a couple of scores but it was the Portlaoise team that finished the better thanks to baskets from Dylan Cahill after great work from Ikhide Cecil Ohiwgrgi and Michael Gilsenan to see them hold a 10 point lead at the break, 22 points to 12 points.
The second half continued much the same as the first with both teams playing well, it was a guards game with the relentless pace seeing Patrick Fitzpatrick and Eoin Murphy putting in great performances. As the quarter went on the Panthers lads were unlucky with the final shot on a few occasions up the floor but that was all it took for the Ballyroan side who continued to keep their scores ticking over as they enjoyed their best spell to bring them right back into the game.
The Panthers lads stayed calm and continued to trust in their own ability and were rewarded with a couple of vital scores from Eamonn Raji and Dylan Cahill who was eventually top scorer of the game with an excellent 17 points to see them end the quarter seven points up.
The last quarter saw the first few minutes turn into a battle for every ball with both defensives on top and scores at a premium. Then there was a period that both teams exchanged baskets, Eoin Murphy and Aaron Dooley put points on the scoreboard for the home team. While this game was a relatively low scoring one, Panthers Coach Jack Scully was happy with the huge work rate on the defensive end and if anything it got better in this quarter, Ballyroan were caught with the sheer pressure which forced them to take some poor shot selections that were gathered up gratefully by the Panthers big men Dooley and Cahill.
As the game came to a close the Panthers lads showed great composure to control the game and run down the clock as they went on to a hard-fought and well-deserved victory.
Team: Aaron Dooley, Evan O’Brien, Dylan Cahill, Michael Gilsenan, Jack ByrneIkhide, Cecil Ohiwgrgi, Eamonn Raji, Aaron Walsh, Cathal McEvoy, Eoin Murphy, Eoin Bell, Brochan O’Reilly, Liam Callon, Paddy Fitzpatrick, David Harrington.
Coach: Jack Scully