Portlaoise Panthers U-16 girls got their season off to a winning start with a comfortable 39-31 win over Berkley in the Kilkenny league on Wednesday night last.
Although there were only 8 points in it at the end Portlaoise never looked like they were going to lose.
The girls got off to a flying start hitting a basket straight from the tipp-off. Jennifer O’Neill controlled the game from the point guard position and notched up 6 points in the first quarter. Sekenat Shabowale was solid on defence picking up 90% of the rebounds under the boards. Portlaoise held a convincing 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter continued in a similar fashion with Ailbhe Griffin coming into her own and dominating on offense. Portlaoise again outscored their opponents 10-7 to extend their lead to 10 points at half time.
Berkley however were not allowing Portlaoise have it all their own way and came back fighting at the start of the third quarter. A lapse in defence allowed Berkley’s Lauryn Devereux get in for some easy lay-ups.
A substitution at this stage introducing Sophie Delahunt into the game resulted in an important defensive steal setting up a crucial score. This was Panthers lowest scoring quarter only adding 6 points to their tally.
A change of defensive tactics in the last quarter allowed Portlaoise to pull away again with some great defence from Aisling McCauley setting up Ellen Connolly for some fast breaks increasing Portlaoise’s lead.
Emer Healy caught some great defensive and offensive rebounds helping to set up her team mates for some easy baskets. Leah Ethon put away a free throw in the dying stages to keep the girls comfortable with seconds to go.
A great match to start off this season’s campaign. Hopefully the girls can continue this form into next week against Kilkenny Stars in the Kilkenny League and next weekend as they begin their defence of their title in the Midlands.