Team Left Bank66pts
St Brendan’s Tralee60pts
TEAM Left Bank Kilkenny cemented second place in the men’s Division One table with a good win over St Brendan’s of Tralee on Saturday night.
After a recent defeat by close rivals Portlaoise, the team set a target of winning their final two games prior to the Christmas break. Saturday’s National Basketball League Southern Conference win in O’Loughlin’s saw them achieve this, adding to the place they had already secured in the semi-finals of the National Cup.
St Brendan’s have a very good tradition in basketball and over the years have boasted such players as Kerry footballing duo Kieran Donaghy and Michael Quirke. Currently in the rebuilding process, they came to Kilkenny with a fit young and ambitious team who would not be beaten easily.
The first quarter was a slow burner, with defences coming out on top for both sides. Each team applied a tight man to man defence, with scores coming at a premium. James Butler got the ball rolling when he notched up some early baskets for Team Left Bank. The quarter finished with the home team holding a slight advantage on the scoreboard (14-10).
The game remained tight in the second quarter as both sides continued to cancel each other out. St Brendan’s were picking up their scores close the basket while Kilkenny were mixing it up, running some plays to get good open looks at the basket. Captain Dean Kavanagh was very influential as point guard and controlled the game at both ends of the floor.
Points were still hard to come by, but Julian O’Keeffe and Dean Kavanagh kept the scoreboard ticking over for the Kilkenny outfit with some great individual efforts. The game had really not taken off when half-time came but it was a happy Kilkenny who went in six points clear, knowing that they had a lot more to offer.
The third quarter saw Team Left Bank switch to a zone defence as they tried to force the opposition to beat them from outside. The St Brendan’s shooting was below average in the first half, allowing the hosts to spot a weakness that they could exploit.
The intensity was upped a couple of notches and the results were evident. Team Left Bank turned over the ball a number of times and although their own conversion rate was not as high as usual they managed to stretch their lead out to 12 points at one stage in this period.
Dean Kavanagh was instrumental in everything that Team Left Bank did well, playing the captain’s role and setting a clear example for his team-mates to follow. Joe Malone was very solid in only his second game for the team dominating the defensive boards, picking up a couple of blocks and notching up six points to go with it.
Trailing by ten points going into the final quarter St Brendan’s upped their game. They began to look more threatening on the offensive front, hitting a couple of three-pointers to reduce the deficit to six.
Team Left Bank adapted again and switched back into the man to man defence to snuff out this new threat. This change paid off as the scores dried up for the Kerry team for a couple of minutes. Philly Brennan stepped up at this stage, hitting three big shots to stretch the lead out again to ten points.
Just when it looked like the game was over, a refereeing call gave St Brendan’s a glimmer a hope as four free throws and possession of the ball after an intentional and technical foul was called.
The four free throws were converted, but Team Left Bank passed the ball out of trouble for the remainder of the game, running the clock down to record their second win in succession and keep the pressure on league leaders St Mary’s Castleisland. Kilkenny will take on the Kerry side both home and away after Christmas.