Narrow defeat for All Stars
EJS SLIGO ALL STARS LETTERKENNY IT 71 73
LYIT spoiled the party for the large home crowd in the Mercy College Gym on Saturday night as they came out on top at the end of an exciting, end to end game by a margin of just one basket. EJ’s Sligo All-Stars fought all the way to the end but just failed to equalise with the final play of the game.
In truth, the home team’s performance didn’t match their recent performances on the road and they will be hoping for a better performance to get back to winning ways next Saturday Night against Galway’s Gamefootage.net Titans. (Tip Off 7.30pm, Mercy College Gym)
EJ’s All-Stars started with a first 5 of Matthew Donnellan, Tobi Brockmann, Inigo Zabalo (Capt.), Connor McClenaghan and Zak Balogun. In a scrappy 1st quarter LYIT took the early initiative with their American Victory Scholar Spencer Williams leading the way with 5 early points.
All-Stars captain Zabalo kept the home team in contention with some nice drives to the basket and Sligo’s own Victory Scholar Zach Yonda chipped in with 5 points of his own. The Quarter ended with LYIT leading by 17 points to 15.
EJ’s Sligo All-Stars got on top early in the 2nd Quarter with their other Victory Scholar McClenaghan leading the way on the scoring front with 7 of the home teams first 9 points of the Quarter.
Eventual top scorer Williams led the resistance for LYIT scoring an incredible 14 of his teams total of 19 points in the 2nd Quarter.
All-Stars maintained the narrowest of leads at the end of the Half on a scoreline of 37-36.
It was nip and tuck all the way through the next 2 Quarters as well as the crowd certainly got plenty of excitement even if the quality was moderate.
All-Stars looked at times during this Quarter like they might take control but each time LYIT pulled them back and in the end it was the visitors who lead by 1 at the end of the 3rd Quarter, 55-54.
LYIT extended their lead to 5 points after the restart as Sligo’s offence failed to penetrate the away teams Zone Defence and their shooting also let them down. McClenaghan got the home team onto the scoreboard with a nice turn and hook shot but LYIT immediately responded to go 5 ahead again.
Tobi Brockmann responded with a basket for the All-Stars to leave just 3 between the teams. LYIT’s Paul McHugh stepped up to score 2 free throws and put the away team 5 up again.
EJ’s All-Stars were struggling on defence to contain the away team at this stage and the game was beginning to slip away from them.
Tension was building nicely with 6 minutes on the clock and the large home support started to get behind their team.
Oisin O’Reilly’s 3 pointer was greeted with loud cheers and the All-Stars were back within 2.
Next up Brockmann took a pass from Zabalo in the corner and coolly slotted another 3 pointer.
Now EJ’s Sligo All-Stars led by 1 and the home crowds cheer lifted the roof. LYIT continued to trouble the Sligo defence though and on their next offence Zabalo coughed up his 5th foul and was out of the game.
Spencer Williams maximised the damage by executing both free throws and LYIT were ahead again.
With the home crowd on tenterhooks the All-Stars responded well and Brockmann put them back in front.
Foul trouble struck again for Sligo though as American McClenaghan committed his fifth foul and had to leave the game. Again, LYIT went to the free throw line and levelled the game at 66 all with just over 4 minutes remaining.
Both teams were playing with real intensity at this stage and baskets were hard to come by. LYIT’s Dillon Muldoon scored a 2 pointer with 3 minutes to go and the refs called a foul to give him an opportunity to make it a 3-point play much to the chagrin of the home crowd.
Despite the crowds best efforts to put him off Muldoon nailed the free throw to send the away team into a 3-point lead again.
Williams then extended their lead to 5 with 2 more free throws after another foul by the home team.
It looked bad for the AllStars when Williams scored another basket to put LYIT into a 7 point lead on a scoreline of 73-66 with just 1.54 left on the clock.
Home team Coach Carlos Rodriguez called a TimeOut and the crowd prayed for a response from their troops.
Immediately after the restart their prayers were answered with a sweet basket from Yonda. 5 points in it and the crowd started to believe again.
All-Stars defence had also tightened up and LYIT were denied on their next offence.
With 1.14 on the clock Emmet Keogh was fouled when shooting and scored one of the resulting free throws to reduce the lead to 4 points.
Again the All-Stars defence shut out the away team on their next offence and then Brockmann scored a Layup after a nice passage of play from the All-Stars to leave just 2 points in it and 46.5 seconds on the clock.
Another Time-Out after which the home crowd roared as their team returned to the court. LYIT had the ball but again the AllStars defence managed a shut out to set up an extremely tense final 10 seconds.
All-Stars managed to create an opportunity for Jesus SanMartin under the basket but he appeared to be fouled as he attempted to convert and the shot fell short.
The referees thought otherwise and LYIT had held on for a 2 point win, 73-71, and now progress to the Cup Quarter Finals.
EJ’s Sligo All-Stars are back to league action at home again this Saturday night 3rd November against bottom of the table Galway Titans with a tip off time of 7.30pm in the Mercy College gym.
Top scorers for EJ’s Sligo All-Stars were Zach Yonda 16, Tobi Brockmann 15 and Connor McClenaghan 11.
EJ’s Sligo All-Stars: Inigo Zabalo (Capt.), Zack Yonda, Tobi Brockmann, Mark Chambers, Connor McCleneghan, Jesus SanMartin, Matthew Donnellan, Emmet Keogh, Oisin O’Reilly, Zak Balogun, Jake Cromey, Aaron Walsh.