Maree’s fine form continues in this season’s National Basketball League.
After a gripping come-from-behind win over Titans in a packed Calasanctius Gym on Saturday, Maree remain top of the table.
The 74-65 final margin ensured Maree denied Titans a losing bonus point (for a seven-point deficit or less) though the local rivals will take some comfort from the cup semi-final next weekend against Dublin’s UCD Marian.
Maree’s next league fixture is a tricky January 18 home tie against last season’s league and cup double winners, Blue Demons of Cork.
Titans came to Oranmore with a score to settle, having suffered an unlikely 69-66 loss to an understrength Maree in their league opener in the Jes on October 5. The visitors started with Gintaras Sedebskis, Tomas Mitkus, Paulius Peldzius, Toms Fabricuss and Chris Coyne, while Maree’s first five was Colm O’Hagan, Liam Conroy, Cathal Finn, Ken Hansberry and Matt Hornbuckle.
Maree’s Conroy and Titans’ Peldzius each scored eight points in a tight first quarter, shaded 18-17 by the visitors. While Titans were on top in the battle for rebounds and scored from transition, Maree’s scores came from set up offence while their man-to-man defence made life difficult for Titans.
The second quarter was bookended for Maree by three-pointers from O’Hagan and Pádraig Burke, but the hosts found themselves in foul trouble, and Titans hit six free throws to Maree’s none. Coyne and Ken Hansberry, who finished with a game-high 16, contributed six points for their respective causes and honours were even for the quarter, with Titans up 39-38 at the half.
Maree lost their way a little after the break, turning the ball over, missing layups, making poor decisions, and scoring just 10 points in the quarter. Titans were the more clinical and seven from Mitkus helped them to a commanding 10-point lead - 58-48 going into the final period.
Maree, however, found an extra gear, upped the intensity, and tore into the Titans’ lead. Hornbuckle’s all-action defence and rebounding was decisive. Finn had a big quarter with 11, and his basket with three minutes to go levelled proceedings at 65-65.
Titans failed to score again, while Maree pulled away for an emphatic 26-7 quarter, including 11 free throws for a 74-65.
Maree: James Brophy (2), Matt Hornbuckle (8), Dónal Greene, Liam Conroy (11), Kenneth Hansberry (16), Paul Jacobsen, Cathal Finn (15), Con Crowley, Pádraig Burke (12), Colm O’Hagan (6), Dave Hansberry (4), Darren Callanan.
Titans: Gintaras Sedebskis (7), Tomas Mitkus (11), Paulius Peldzius (13), Toms Fabricuss (9), Chris Coyne (13), Emmet Murphy (2), Glen Hynes (6), Derek Mulveen, Daniel Mendez, Jonathan Pesaitis, Chris McNairney (2), Sergi Cosconera (2).