Win in Kilkenny makes for Maree Christmas

Maree’s league-leading record moved to 8-1 with a 90-70 winter solstice away win over Team Left Bank Kilkenny in Saturda’s National Basketball League.

Ken Hansberry hit 24 points for the Galway men, while Cathal Finn notched 19. Puff Summers scored 19 for Kilkenny.

Kilkenny played zone defence, while Maree stayed with their stingy man-to-man, keenly aware of the threat posed by Summers, who hit 31 the previous week in a losing cause in Castleisland. The tactic worked, as Kilkenny’s sharp-shooter was limited to just four first-half points. Hansberry, with 12 points, helped Maree to a 24-18 lead at the end of the first quarter in which team-mate Colm O’Hagan nailed two three-pointers.

In the second period Liam Conroy was good for 10 – including eight in a row – as was Cathal Finn, and Maree led 50-35 at the half.

However Kilkenny, in front of enthusiastic and vocal home support, came out fighting, and they made the game interesting in the third, hitting five three-pointers including four in a row, and outscoring the visitors 24-17, despite seven from Matt Hornbuckle.

With the lead cut to 67-59 going into the last quarter, Maree faced a stiff test in the last, but a big 3 from Finn settled the nerves and Maree pulled away again. Pádraig Burke hit their last six points as the game ended 90-70 for the visitors.

Although Maree lost Con Crowley to the USA before the season began, and Darren Callanan to Britain after just three games, the squad has strength in depth. The return from New Zealand of big Enda Walsh will be a welcome boost heading into the second half of the season after the holiday break.

Maree: James Brophy, Matt Hornbuckle (9 ), Dónal Greene, Liam Conroy (14 ), Kenneth Hansberry (24 ), Charlie Crowley, Cathal Finn (19 ), Pádraig Burke (6 ), Colm O’Hagan (16 ), Dave Hansberry (2 ).

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