Thursday 22 February 2018

Pres reach All-Ireland semis-finals

THE Presentation Bray U-19 basketball team came through a tough match in the Presentation Bray gym against a dogged Col Eanna team to secure a place in the All-Ireland Cup semi-finals in the New Year.

The Bray team were under immense pressure to win the match after previously defeating their opponents by over 20 points in their Leinster/East Region League encounter back in early October.

The Col Eanna team that showed up for today's match was a different team altogether, with a couple of players returning from injury and a fresh, determined attitude.

Presentation Bray got off to a fast start and looked as if they might run away with the match thanks to scores from Reece O'Callaghan and Luke Gorman.

The home team were running the floor well and fast break baskets from Andy Bartley and Ash O'Callaghan gave the home side an 8 point lead in the match.

Col Eanna remained calm and hit back with some well taken layups and accurate long range shooting from Robbie Torsney and Conor White.

Marc Lennon drove hard to the basket to keep Presentation Bray in front, but three quick fouls from Reece O'Callaghan meant the Bray lads had to adjust their lineup early in the first quarter with Shane Davidson coming into the match.

Shane made an immediate impact by scoring two free throws and also converting an open jump-shot. Col Eanna matched Presentation Bray basket for basket as the first quarter continued and a packed Presentation gym was treated to an excellent display of attacking basketball from both teams.

The score at the end of the first quarter was 28-25 to Presentation Bray, but Col Eanna had withstood everything that the home side had thrown at them and were the happier of the two teams going into the second quarter.

The second quarter saw both teams continue to match each other, score for score. Presentation Bray had brought on Marcus Nolan to secure rebounds and provide height inside.

Marcus scored six points in the quarter with some composed free throw shooting and also quick moves to the basket.

A couple of three point scores from Marc Lennon and Shane Davidson were vital in ensuring the home side remained in front.

Andy Bartley came more into the match in the second quarter, scoring 7 points to give Presentation Bray a 49-45 lead at the half time break.

The Bray lads knew they needed to up their intensity at the start of the second half or risk allowing Col Eanna to remain within a couple of scores, which would be risky as the match moved closer to the final buzzer.

The Presentation Bray team began to force Col Eanna players into silly fouls with their willingness to attack the basket. The home side hit 11 points from the free throw line in the third quarter with Shane Davidson being the main beneficiary of the poor Col Eanna defence and their propensity to foul.

Ash O'Callaghan's defence was also a feature of the third quarter. Ash showed tremendous athleticism and desire to grab several big rebounds and make some huge defensive plays for his team.

An excellent O'Callaghan score was quickly followed by a three-point score from Andy Bartley to put a bit of daylight between Presentation Bray and Col Eanna at the end of the third quarter. The score was 74-63 going into the final quarter and although the home side had pushed their lead to double digits, Col Eanna were still not giving up and the home side knew they would have to remain focused in the final quarter in order to secure victory.

In the final quarter, man of the match, Ash O'Callaghan continued to impress, scoring 8 points and man marking Col Eanna's main threat, Divin Matabisi on defence.

Andy Bartley also added 8 points to his own personal scoring total and a deep three-point score from Shane Davidson helped Presentation Bray push their lead to 20 points.

Presentation Bray basketball U-16 players and Irish U-15 development squad members, Nigel Magno and Donal Ring, both came off the bench for the home side in the fourth quarter and made an immediate impact on the match, Nigel by stealing the ball off a sloppy inbounds from a tired Col Eanna team and Donal by scoring 4 points in the final two minutes of the match including the score which allowed the home side hit the 100 points mark for the third time this season.

The match finished 101-75 to a jubilant Presentation Bray U-19 squad who can now look forward to an All-Ireland Cup semi-final against Leinster/East Region rivals, St. Fintans Sutton in January.

The Presentation Bray U-19s will now switch their focus back to the Leinster/East Region League, where they have home advantage in the upcoming league playoffs, which start next Friday, November 22 with a home quarter-final against Ard Scoil Ris, Marino.

Pres Bray scorers - Andy Bartley 30pts, Ash O'Callaghan 21pts, Shane Davidson 19pts, Marc Lennon 10pts, Marcus Nolan 8pts, Luke Gorman 7pts, Donal Ring 4pts, Reece O'Callaghan 2pts.

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