Saturday 15 December 2018

Thunder silenced by deadly Demons

Swords Thunder 77 UCC Demons 90

Paul Byrne

Griffiths College Swords Thunder suffered a potentially fatal blow to their Superleague hopes as they suffered a thirteen-point defeat to UCC Demons. This defeat saw the Thunder fall from second to fifth in the table with the gap to leaders UCD Marian now six points (Marian also have a game in hand).

Dave Baker's side knew a win was crucial if they were to remain in contention having also lost their last league game two weeks previously to Pyrobel Killester. And there was plenty of motivation for the Thunder on Saturday evening as they came up against the Demons who controversially beat them in the Mardyke earlier on in the season by a single point due to an error by the referee.

UCC Demons have been inconsistent this season losing five of their twelve games but they have showed some excellent play in patches and Baker knew before this game that this final game of 2017 would prove to be a major test for his side.

UCC started well with Lehmon Colbert in particular looking up for the challenge in the early stages. The big American scored with his first three efforts to give the visitors an early lead and they stretched that lead to eight points as Kyle Hosford and Colin O'Reilly added to the Demons tally. Conroy Baltimore hit a much welcome three for the hosts to narrow the gap but another Colbert three-pointer just before the buzzer ensured the Demons went in with a 26-18 lead after the first quarter.

The Thunder were struggling to cope with Colbert's power and pace throughout the second quarter and looked a touch off their usual relentless style as the Demons extended their lead. By half time the gap between the sides had grown to eighteen points as UCC went in with a healthy looking 48-30 lead.

As is customary with Swords they produced a strong rally in the third quarter to reduce the deficit to just seven points with two minutes remaining. However, UCC Demons had the final say of an exciting third period with a three-pointer from Colbert which ensured they went into the final quarter of the game with a ten-point lead.

Alex Dolenko got the Thunder off to the perfect start in the final quarter with a well-executed three from distance to narrow the gap to seven points once again.

A packed ALSAA began to believe that the momentum was with their team as it seemed the pressure might get to the Demons. However, the Cork side proved their mettle with Colin O'Reilly draining two free throws to extend their lead once more.

Colbert followed that up with yet another three and suddenly the game looked out of Swords reach with the Demons holding a twelve-point lead with just two minutes remaining.

An Isaac Westbrooks three-pointer narrowed the gap late on but it was the Demons who fittingly had the final say of the game with O'Reilly scoring two late free throws to seal a deserved thirteen point victory.

Top scorers Griffith College Swords Thunder: Conroy Baltimore 22, Alex Dolenko 19, Isaac Westbrooks 17.

Fingal Independent