Maree Basketball club’s remarkable success at a national level continued this season.
In the men’s u-20 National Cup final on Saturday, Maree beat Killester 72-57. It completed a remarkable treble of u-20 cup wins, having won the event in 2011 against Blue Demons and in 2010 with a win over UCD Marian.
This was the Galway club’s fifth National Cup win since 2008, and Saturday’s victory gave captain Colm O’Hagan a record fifth underage National Cup title, while Ken Hansberry was awarded the MVP trophy with 23 points and 26 rebounds.
Killester, the only undefeated team in the u-20 Dublin League, took a quick 10 – 6 lead as both sides looked to play up-tempo fast-breaking basketball. Moycullen’s Hansberry and Enda Walsh, who had suffered a shoulder injury just four hours earlier in the u-18 final, dominated their own boards and put constant pressure on Killester’s, while guards Colm O’Hagan, Ciarán Harte and Pádraig Burke played tight defence, forcing Killester to run screen after screen before they could get a look at the basket. As a result they lost out to the 24-second clock on four occasions, although their three-point shooting contributed 24 of their 52 game points.
However the Dubliners’ over-dependence on Roe was clear from the beginning, while Maree had scoring threats all over the floor. They caught Killester at 10-0 and took an 18-12 lead at the end of the period before threatening to pull away.
However Killester stayed in touch with three-pointers until the last few minutes of the half when Maree pressed home their advantage. Hansberry and Walsh hammered the Dubliners in the paint, and Harte, Burke, O’Hagan and Brian Kelly - in his best game to date - turned the screw in defence.
At the half Maree’s lead had jumped to 37-22, and although Killester twice pegged the lead back to nine, each time Maree re-established it.
Maree’s domination of the boards was awesome; they ended the game with 52 to Killester’s 35; Hansberry’s personal tally was 26. With just one quarter to go, and despite giving it their all, Killester had reduced the Maree lead by just two points, 51-38.
The two teams traded baskets for the first few minutes of the fourth, but Maree pulled away for good, outscoring Killester 13-6 in the last four minutes, Hansberry ended with 23 points, Burke 18 and O’Hagan 13, and Maree good for 34 points in the paint to Killester’s 16. Roe hit 25 for Killester, and Patrick Sullivan 14.