Maree opened their National League campaign on Saturday night in Oranmore with a comprehensive 30-point win over Tolka Rovers of Dublin.
Maree looked sharp from the tip-off, clearly benefiting from pre-season friendlies against Moycullen, UCD Marian and Ulster Elks. Their high-octane man-to-man defence was the key, forcing Tolka turnovers, converted by the home team into some slick fastbreak basketball. In the third quarter Maree outscored Tolka by 25 – 7 on their way to a 65 – 35 final score.
The first quarter was edgy and physical, and featured six points from Sarunas Zvirblinskas, and a stingy Maree defence that limited Tolka to just five.
Tolka clawed their way back into the game in the second quarter, but with six different Maree players adding to the tally, Maree’s lead was 25 – 17 at the break. Crowley’s three started the scoring in the third period before the Maree fastbreak kicked in. With Conroy pulling the strings and dishing out the assists, Callanan and the Hansberry brothers – Dave and Ken – ran in lay-ups. Ken Hansberry hit eight points in the quarter, and Callanan was well on his way to a game-high haul of 12 rebounds and eight steals. Mitkus rounded things off with a big three. In the last quarter, with Zvirblinskas dominating the paint and scoring a game-high 16, Tolka’s fate was sealed.
Maree: Con Crowley (7 ), Colm O’Hagan, Danny Finn (4 ), Ciaran Harte, Darren Callanan (2 ), Brian Kelly, Niall Higgins, Liam Conroy (8 ), Dave Hansberry (6 ), Sarunas Zvirblinskas (16 ), Ken Hansberry (10 ), Linas Mitkus (12 ).