ST JOSEPH'S 74 PRESENTATION BRAY 72
THE PRESENTATION BRAY U-19 Basketball team's hopes of repeating as U19 All-Ireland Schools Basketball Cup champions were dashed yesterday in Galway. The team suffered a heartbreaking 74-72 defeat against St. Joseph's 'The Bish' in the Kingfisher Arena, NUIG.
There was controversy in the final seconds of the match as a 24 second shot clock violation was missed by the match officials and the Bish were allowed run the clock out and win the match.
The Bray squad may have reason to be upset with the handling of the last 30 seconds of the match, but in truth the match was lost much earlier due to bad defence and poor free throw shooting from Presentation Bray and some excellent outside shooting from the Bish who scored 11 three-point shots in the match.
In the first quarter, the Bish were out of the blocks the fastest and took a sevenpoint lead with a combination of accurate shooting from the perimeter and drives to the basket.
The Presentation zone defence was being dragged all over the place and it was failing to stop the Bish's outside shooting or their dribble penetration.
The Bray side eventually got on the board thanks to an Andy Bartley free throw. Further scores from Marc Lennon and Lorcan Murphy kept Presentation Bray in touch.
As the quarter continued, Presentation settled into the match and Andy Bartley scored two baskets in a row to cut the Bish lead to four points.
An excellent assist from Marc Lennon to Lorcan Murphy for the score made it a one score game, but two big threepoint scores from the Bish kept Presentation Bray at bay.
Presentation Bray were getting open looks at the basket, but unfortunately they were unable to hit their open shots. Marc Lennon and Lorcan Murphy were the main threats for the Bray side and Lorcan's drives to the basket and Marc's quick passing were keeping the lads in the game.
Shane Davidson came off the bench for Presentation Bray to score with an aggressive drive to the basket, but it was at the defensive end that the Bray side were suffering and the score at the end of the first quarter was 24-19 to the Bish.
In the 2nd quarter the Bish's hot outside shooting continued and Presentation Bray's attempts to switch defences in order to combat it was not working.
The score going into halftime was 4230 in favour of the Bish and Presentation Bray had a big hole to climb out of if they stood any chance of retaining their title.
As the second half began Pres Bray switched to a man to man defence in the hope of disrupting the Bish offensive play.
Dylan Terry also came off the bench to provide more height under the basket. Dylan immediately marked his arrival with two well taken scores to start the Presentation Bray fight back.
Lorcan Murphy was being tightly man marked in the third quarter and when he did get the ball, he was invariably fouled. Unfortunately Lorcan's free throw touch deserted him and he was only able to convert one free throw in the third quarter.
In the final quarter Presentation Bray knew that they needed to sort out their defensive issues if they wanted to advance to the U-19 All-Ireland Schools Cup semi-finals.
A switch to full court pressure defence from the visitors paid dividends initially with the Bish turning the ball over and Bray players, Dylan Terry and Andy Bartley scoring from the turnovers.
A decisive drive and dunk from Lorcan Murphy inspired his teammates and suddenly Presentation Bray were only six points down.
Two huge three-point scores from the Bish backup guard helped them steady the ship and push their lead back to 10 points but the intense Presentation Bray pressure defence was causing the Bish players to panic.
A three-point score from Marc Lennon, Bray's only three-point score of the match against the Bish's 11, got Pres Bray to within seven points of the lead.
Another huge three-point score from the Bish helped them hold of the Bray fight back, but credit to the visitors they kept on coming with Lorcan Murphy and David Mackin both scoring with drives to the basket following Bish turnovers.
A Bish free throw and two short jumpshots gave the Bish a four-point lead with less than two minutes to go in the match.
Andy Bartley converted two scores from close range in quick succession to leave the score at 74-72 with 27 seconds on the game clock.
The Bray team worked hard to ensure that they didn't foul and that the Bish didn't get a shot off, but the referees mistakenly believed that the game clock and shot clock were in sync, rather than the three second differential that existed and allowed the Bish to play out the game. This mistake meant that a 24 second shot clock violation was not called by the officials and it denied Presentation Bray an opportunity to either level the match with a two-point score or potentially win the match with a threepoint score.
The Presentation Bray coach, Marie O'Toole and players were understandably irate at this mistake by the two referees but they were unwilling to entertain the Presentation Bray complaints and the match finished on a 74-72 score line with St. Joseph's 'The Bish' Galway advancing to the U-19 All-Ireland Schools Cup semi-finals.
The Presentation Bray U-19 team now have to regroup and prepare for their Leinster/East Region League semifinals which will be played during the upcoming weeks.
The Bray team need to win the Leinster/East Region League in order to be seeded when the U-19 All-Ireland School League competition begins in the New Year.
Now that the U-19 All-Ireland Schools Cup is out of their reach, the team needs to put their disappointment behind them and focus on winning the U-19 All-Ireland Schools League title instead.
Pres Bray Scorers: Andy Bartley 22pts; Lorcan Murphy 21pts; Marc Lennon 15pts; Dylan Terry 6pts; David Mackin 4pts; Ash O'Callaghan and Shane Davidson both 2pts each.