Moycullen basketballers have gained momentum in their Superleague challenge after disposing of Ulster Elks on Sunday to post back-to-back victories.
Having gained their first Superleague win against UCD Marian the previous week, Moycullen travelled to Belfast and bagged a valuable second victory over the winless Elks.
From battling for an honourable defeat to being able to win games, the team has continued to improve with each game. The inclusion of American Nate Fritsch has added an extra dimension to Moycullen’s scoring ability, and coach Enda Byrt now believes more wins are possible and a top-three ranking and a play-off place is a difficult but legitimate target.
Their next target is against cup conquerors Hoops on December 12 (7.30pm ) which will be held at the Sportlann Mhichil Mór in Leitir Mór due to the Kingfisher NUIG gym being unavailable in December. Having led Hoops for much of the cup game, Moycullen will be optimistic of reversing the result and continuing their winning run.
Last weekend, inspired early on by Fritsch, and Cian Nihill, and a big effort from James Loughnane, Moycullen built a solid 13-point half time lead.
Loughnane drew an early foul, converted his free throws and knocked down a three to put the visitors 5-2 up. Paul Cummins and Dave Neal responded for Elks, but Fritsch and Nihill were more than a match for them as they shared 19 points over the remainder of the quarter. Mike Dowd picked up a lay-up on a good drive and despite Kevin Foley finding his range for the hosts, Moycullen lead 26-19 at quarter time.
The second quarter was almost a carbon copy of the first. Elks struggled to find a rhythm against the Moycullen defence with Irish international Ian O’Boyle well marshalled. Fritsch continued to be clinical in offence as Moycullen opened a 51-38 half-time lead.
Elks rallied in the third, putting Moycullen were on the back foot, but they dug in and found a way to minimise the damage. Mike Dowd had two impressive scores, Nollaig Cunningham hit a jumper from the free-throw line, and Fritsch continued to add to his game-high 33 to stay ahead by 68-63.
With just five between the sides the final quarter was critical. Randall Hanke came off the bench for Elks and dropped six points, but Moycullen introduced Mindaugus Kurcenkovas who knocked down eight points in a row to keep the gap at 4, 76-72. The deciding point arrived with about four minutes on the clock when Fritsch soared in for a monster put-back dunk to finally break the Elks’ spirit. Dylan Cunningham followed up with a three-pointer and, despite Cian Nihill fouling out, the game was over.
Moycullen: Nate Fritsch (33 ), Cian Nihill (15 ), Mindaugus Kurcenkovas (12 ), James Loughnane (11 ), Dylan Cunningham (8 ), Michael Dowd (6 ), John Cunningham (4 ), Nollaig Cunningham(4 ), Puff Summers, Eoghan Maxwell, Paul O’Brien. Coach: Enda Byrt.