Garvey’s Tralee Warriors bid to defend their Super League title remains on track after an 81-63 win over Keane’s SuperValu Killorglin at the Tralee Complex last Saturday night. It may not have been the classic encounter that some expected, but it was at times dramatic, at other times pulsating, but always compelling as the sides battled it out for the third time this season at Super League level. In the end a blistering final quarter from the Warriors sealed the crucial victory to give them their 15th win of the campaign to keep them top of the League with 3 games remaining.
After some unnecessary gamemanship over what colour gear the away team was going to wear, the sides got down to playing basketball in front of a packed out Tralee Sports Complex. Daniel Jokubaitis fired in the opening score for the Warriors with a three pointer before some people had even settled into their seats. Colin O’Reilly and Allan Thomas got Killorglin into gear and Rami Ghanem hit two to edge the visitors ahead. Jokubaitis was in range again twice and when Eoin Quigley took flight to dunk over the 6’11’’ Pranas Skurdauskas and Andre Berry opened his account the Warriors led 16-10. Darragh O’Hanlon and Denzel Brito exchanged threes before Declan Wall struck late from distance to leave just one between the sides at the first break. (all pictures courtesy of Liam Ryan)
The sides went score for score in the second with Jon Lawton checking in before O’Reilly with two and Ghanem moved Killorglin back in front but a hat trick of scores from Berry wrestled the lead back for the Warriors. Fergal O’Sullivan got a good look at the basket to arc in a three before Jokubaitis followed suit to see the League champions lead by 4. However Thomas and Ghanem combined to leave the teams deadlocked at 35-35 at the half time break.
With the game finely poised, and Complex absolutely rocking, Killorglin decided it was time to go on a run and their fans were in full voice as they hit the Warriors for 8 unanswered points early in the third. O’Reilly and Thomas were again the strike force as they quickly moved into a 47-39 lead. The Warriors needed a response and got it with Kieran Donaghy hitting his first of the night and an Andre Berry double to cut the gap to a single score. However Killorglin had the final say in the quarter with Brito and Pranus Skurdauskas ensuring their side led 52-49 as the sides turned for home.
The atmosphere in the Complex was at fever pitch when the League champions blasted out of the blocks in the final quarter to go on what would prove to be a game-winning run. The Warriors faithful were on their feet from the moment Jon Lawton buried a three from distance and when Lawton fired in two more scores and Jokubaitis joined in on the double the Warriors were suddenly 63-52 up. Allan Thomas stopped the rot for Killorglin with a three but Paul Dick and Ivan Bogdanovic doubled down to keep the Warriors lead intact. Killorglin had opportunities to cut the gap from the free throw line but a 1 from 6 return from Thomas and Skurdauskas was nowhere near enough and when the former Killorglin duo of Bogdanovic and Jokubaitis both landed baskets at the other end the advantage was out to 16. Ghanem and O’Reilly kept the score in check before Lawton stepped in for a big finale to fire down identical threes late on to give the Warriors the 81-63 win they thoroughly deserved.
Scorers: Warriors Daniel Jokubaitis 21, Jon Lawton 16, Andre Berry 14
Killorglin Colin O’Reilly 20, Allan Thomas 20, Rami Ghanem 11
Next up for the Warriors is another home fixture when they entertain Maree of Oranmore next Saturday night at the Tralee Sports Complex with tip off as usual at 7.30pm.
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