Portlaoise Panthers U-14 girls travelled to Tullamore on Sunday where they played Athlone and Kestrels in the latest set of Midland League fixtures.
In the first game of the day Portlaoise took on Athlone and this proved to be a very exciting game. Portlaoise started the game strongest with quick baskets from Maeve Phelan, Sekinat Shaobowloe and Ciara Hogan. Portlaoise kept Athlone’s scoring chances to a minimum following fantastic defence from Ellen Dunphy and Aoife Fitzpatrick.
Portlaoise started the second quarter as they did the first with Aisling McCauley netting six points. Beth Carroll and Leah Eaton fought extremely hard on defence ensuring that Athlone did not close the gap and at half time, Portlaoise were leading 23-14.
The second half of the game saw both teams fitness being put to the test as the pace of the game increased. Maeve Phelan and Aisling McCauley showed great composure from the point controlling the offensive while also adding scores to the board. Caoimhe Grant-Akande and Ciara Hogan collected some great rebounds and scored great baskets to ensure Portlaoise’s lead remained intact.
It was in this half that Athlone started to fight back but great defence and rebounding from Ellen Dunphy and Rebecca Grant ensured that a win for Portlaoise was inevitable. Panthers sealed a very important win with a scoreline of 41-32.
In the second game of the day Panthers played a very strong and well organised Kestrels team. Kestrels are currently lying first in the league. Throughout the game Beth Carroll, Leah Eaton and Aoife Fitzpatrick showed great spirit and composure on offence, Shaobowloe, Grant -Akande and Dunphy all collecting some great rebounds. Aisling McCauley, Rebecca Grant and Maeve Phelan were very strong on defence and scored some impressive baskets. On the day there were a number of strong performances from Kestrels players but an outstanding performance from Claire Melia with 41 points ensured they were triumphant.
Portlaoise have only two games left this season but with the great performances they have displayed to date it is looking very likely that they will feature in the Juvenile Top 4 which is being held in St Mary’s Hall in April.