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Fingal Independent - - SPORT - PAUL BYRNE

GRIF­FITH Col­lege Swords Thun­der are still search­ing for their open­ing win of the sea­son af­ter they fell to a se­cond league de­feat in a row when Belfast Star got the bet­ter of them on Satur­day evening.

Thun­der’s prepa­ra­tions for the game were hit late on when coach Dave Baker fell ill on Satur­day af­ter­noon, mean­ing he couldn’t travel for the game.

Both Swords and Belfast Star had lost their open­ing games the pre­vi­ous week­end and they were each look­ing to bounce back with a win here in the De La Salle Col­lege gym.

The home side started much the brighter and were ten points clear ap­proach­ing half-time, with Mike Davis in par­tic­u­lar caus­ing Thun­der prob­lems. A long-dis­tance three-pointer on the buzzer from Mark Ber­lic en­sured that Belfast fin­ished the open­ing quar­ter with a healthy-look­ing 26-13 ad­van­tage.

Thun­der’s point guard Isaac West­brooks was coach on the day in the ab­sence of Baker and he be­gan to find some space as his side grad­u­ally got into the game in the se­cond quar­ter to re­duce the home side’s lead to seven ap­proach­ing half-time.

How­ever, Star in­creased their lead to dou­ble-digit fig­ures once more late in the se­cond quar­ter when Davis hit a three-pointer to leave the half-time score­board read­ing 44-34 in favour of the hosts.

It looked to be game over for Swords as Belfast Star came out of the blocks quickly in the third quar­ter to open up a 16-point gap, but to the visi­tors’ credit they fought back and re­duced that lead to just six points go­ing into the fi­nal quar­ter.

Eli­jah Mays and Kevin Lacey in par­tic­u­lar were out­stand­ing for the Fin­gal side as they stormed back into con­tention com­ing down the straight.

The fi­nal quar­ter saw Thun­der con­tinue that mo­men­tum and they looked to be favourites to go on and win when Mays drew the sides level with an ex­cel­lent score early in the fi­nal quar­ter.

How­ever, the home side man­aged to re­group and fin­ished the game very strongly, with both Davis and Ber­lic scor­ing cru­cial bas­kets late on to help Belfast Star edge clear down the straight to record an 85-77 vic­tory.

Af­ter the game stand-in coach West­brooks spoke of his side’s frus­tra­tion at an­other slow start to the game.

‘We started slowly again and un­for­tu­nately it has cost us for the se­cond week run­ning.

‘We were ex­actly where we wanted to be in the fi­nal quar­ter, but a cou­ple of loose plays from us gave them the mo­men­tum back and they fin­ished the game out well.

‘Ob­vi­ously it wasn’t ideal for us to start with­out our coach in at­ten­dance, with Dave fall­ing ill, and I have to ad­mit I found it tough try­ing to man­age the game from the court while play­ing also. It hap­pened at such short no­tice and it def­i­nitely didn’t help our cause.

‘We have a lot of new faces in this year and I do be­lieve we are start­ing to gell and I think we will im­prove as the sea­son goes on.’

SWORDS THUN­DER TOP SCOR­ERS: Eli­jah Mays 18pts, Kevin Lacey 18, Isaac West­brooks 7.

Katie Black tries to en­gi­neer a scor­ing op­por­tu­nity for Swords.

Anna Bren­nan makes a surg­ing run to­wards the bas­ket for Swords Thun­der against Ma­ree at ALSAA. Pic­tures: Fin­tan Clarke

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