Two big Super League games rounded off the decade in Galway basketball this weekend, as Maree and Moycullen all finished 2019 with a bang on Saturday evening.
Down in Cork, it took overtime to separate Coughlan C&S Neptune and Maree, with Maree picking up the win in the end, 92 - 99 to deliver Neptune their second overtime loss in as many games. The game was close throughout with neither team able to hold a comfortable lead as they matched each other score for score. Maree narrowly led 40 - 45 at the half, thanks to well-balanced scoring from Oriol Balsells Plaza, Kenneth Hansberry and Paul Freeman. The battle continued in the second half though, with Lehmon Colbert's scoring and inside presence proving instrumental for the hosts in the fourth quarter. Cian Heaphy also caused havoc for the Maree defence down the stretch and was on hand to level the game at the death at 81 points apiece and send it to overtime. It remained neck-and-neck in overtime but in the end, Balsells Plaza and Darin Johnson had the magic touch for the visitors in the dying moments of the game to win out 92-99 and make it four straight wins for Maree going into the New Year.
Maree head coach Mike Lynch said; "Tonight was a very important win for us, especially on the road against a team like Neptune. Post-Christmas games are always tricky to call, but we trained over the last two weeks and it certainly paid off for us tonight. We knew going into the game that Neptune have developed a strong inside game and that they are one of the quickest in transition.
"Defensively, we worked very hard and this paid off for us. Cian Heaphy made things difficult. We have had a lot of close games this season, but we knew we had the ability to see the game out once we stuck to our game plan, and we were able to stay out of foul trouble. This was our fourth win in a row and is exactly the start we needed for the second half of the season."
Fellow Galway side Moycullen were also celebrating the end of 2019 in style as they managed to hold out to get a big 69-60 home win over Pyrobel Killester Saturday evening. The home side kept Killester at arm's length in the first half, 40-31, thanks to good scoring from Grant Olsson and Dylan Cunningham. Killester were not going down without a fight though, and kept battling right to the end. John Behan was to the fore for the Dublin side, but despite their best efforts, Moycullen held firm and won by nine in the end.
Speaking afterwards, head coach John Cunningham said: "I'm thrilled with the win. With the way the games fell, we had to ask for some big sacrifices over Christmas. Thankfully, the guys got their reward today. I feel a bit for Brian and Killester as they have had a rough run of injuries and they battled to the end, adding to the grey hairs that have been appearing for me over the last few years.
"I must give credit to my guys though. We played some excellent basketball at both ends in the first half and, despite struggling at the offensive end as the game wore on, our defence never let up and was the difference in the end. Any win in this league is a big win and, despite our record, we feel we can compete every night and that's what we'll continue to do."