National u-20 Cup champions Maree opened their title defence on Saturday in Calasanctius College Oranmore with a facile victory over Longford Falcons.
Maree overwhelmed the hapless midlanders, who were were 37-11 at the end of the first quarter, and Maree went on to record a huge 137-47 win with Liam Conroy and Ken Hansberry the game’s high scorers with 26 points apiece.
Maree, with only three u-20s (Conroy, Con Crowley and George Rahmani ) are a young but very experienced side with seven of the squad playing in the men’s National League/
Quicker, sharper and stronger than Falcons, Maree raced into a 6-0lead in the first minute,. Falcons tried both zone and man-to-man defence, but Maree, well supported by a home crowd, rolled over them with fast-break basketball.
Eight different Maree players saw action in the first quarter, and all scored, with Conroy hitting 11. Crowley and Colm O’Hagan turned Falcons’ ball over, Hansberry and Rahmani protected the basket, ruled the rebounds and fed the fast break, while u-17 star, Tomas Mitkus, made his u-20 debut, grabbing 11 rebounds and 21 points.
By half time Maree enjoyed an unassailable 64-15 lead, and could afford the luxury of putting an u-18 five on the floor in the third period, which they won 33 – 17. Maree’s 100th point came when O’Hagan hit the second basket of his 11 fourth-quarter (total 16 ) points. Maree hit a whopping 40 in the period, winning the one-sided contest by 90. Maree’s opponents in an eagerly anticipated quarter-final will be the winners of the Moycullen-Templeogue clash.
Maree: Con Crowley (15 ), Colm O’Hagan (16 ), George Rahmani (8 ), Liam Conroy (26 ), Ciaran Harte (9 ), Brian Kelly (2 ), Ken Hansberry (26 ), Paul Jacobsen, Tomas Mitkus (21 ), Enda Walsh (10 ), Pádraig Burke (4 ), Eavan Finn, Cormac Shields.