It's ton up for Thunder
Templeogue 97 Swords Thunder 100
Griffith College Swords Thunder came out on top of a classic encounter against old rivals Templeogue following a see-saw game which eventually needed overtime to separate the two teams.
Dave Baker's side have bounced back impressively since a bad patch in late October/early November where they were dumped out of the National Cup and were beaten by Moycullen and DCU Saints in the league.
Since then they have put together excellent back-to-back victories against high-flying Garvey Tralee Warriors and league leaders UCD Marian to climb back to the top of the table.
On Saturday evening they faced yet another tough task away to reigning Super League champions Templeogue who have been climbing the table steadily after a poor start to the defence of their title.
The game began at breakneck speed in a packed Oblate Hall, with Conroy Baltimore (who would finish with 35 points) giving Thunder an early lead with a fine three-pointer from distance. An exciting first quarter ended with the hosts holding a narrow one-point lead, with the scoreboard reading 17-16 to Templeogue.
Lorcan Murphy and Mike Bonaparte were a huge part of Templeogue's title win last season and both men brought their A games to the party on Saturday evening as they went at Thunder's defence time and time again in the second quarter. However, Swords clung onto their opponents' coattails with some fine baskets from the excellent Isaac Westbrooks (who hit 20 points in the game) and Baltimore who was really in the zone, seemingly scoring each time he went for the basket.
A tight second quarter saw Templeogue extend their lead slightly as they went in with a 39-36 half-time lead.
The third quarter was again nip and tuck, with Bonaparte's third three of the game helping his side maintain their slender lead as the scoreboard now read 65-62 with just 12 minutes remaining.
Swords Thunder saved their best play for the early stages of the final quarter as Westbrooks, Baltimore and Charlie Coombes scored in quick succession to help open up a six-point lead. However, Templeogue weren't finished yet and buoyed by a raucous home crowd the champions hit back with scores from Murphy, Bonaparte and Jason Killeen.
With time almost up it looked as though Templeogue had the game sewn up, but there was one final twist as Baltimore drained a pressure shot to level the scores with less than two seconds remaining.
That meant the game went to overtime where Templeogue once again opened up a lead, with Murphy impressing once again with his 32nd point of a wonderful display.
Templeogue stretched the gap to four points with three minutes remaining, but as so often this season Swords managed to find another gear and powered down the straight, with Coombes hitting his 14th point of the day and Travis Black and Baltimore also scoring in quick succession to put their side back in the driving seat.
Bonaparte left just two points in it with seconds remaining, but a free throw from Black sealed a massive victory for Baker's side as they maintained their narrow lead at the top of the Super League.