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Bray bested


IT WAS a measure of the respect that following Tuesday's U19 'A' School cup final at the national arena, members of the Malachy's team embraced Bray's big forward Andy Bartley during the traditional post-game handshake ritual.

St Malachy's College 80

Presentation College Bray 58

Bartley has served with many of them on the Irish underage panels and while it was one of his quieter days in the school shirt, he nonetheless registered some quality baskets.

It was a tough afternoon for the Bray team but Bartley, despite his lanky stature, showed terrific balance at times to pop in some fine scores.

A long schools campaign was to undoubtedly take its toll on Bartley and his colleagues, particularly in the second half, but it was a terrific achievement reaching the blue ribbon affair.

To put things in perspective, Bray were up against a team who have tasted their fair share of Premier League action, with Conor and Aidan Quinn both getting considerable court time for Belfast Star this season.

Added to that there was the contribution of Queen's club member Odhran Eastwood, who played an instrumental role at point guard upon his introduction.

As such, the defending champions had the edge over Bray, although the Wicklow outfit were somewhat aggrieved with some decisions they felt went against them.

Bray had controlled their first quarter with third year Donal Ring strong under the baskets as Bray opened up a 24-14 lead.

However, two travelling offences in the last minute interrupted Bray's momentum and with two minutes to go in the half, Malachy's began to turn the screw.

Their defensive rebounding, combined with a good outlet pass to the likes of Liam Pettigrew and the two Quinns, was to take significant chunks out of the Bray lead with back-to-back baskets by Conor and Aidan seeing them just two points in arrears at the break, 39-37.

And while Bartley would convert two from the line shortly after the restart, a zero return off three subsequent attacks was to prove costly for Marie O'Toole's team. Malachy's began to find their game with two well-executed jump shots from the wing, and the Belfast outfit started to pull away.

Malachy's defence was equally good with Pettigrew keeping close tabs on Bartley and with Bray rushing their passing at times, Malachy's capitalised to record a series of baskets off turned over ball.

Heading into the final period, Bray trailed 58-50 and were still in the game but a lapse of concentration saw them concede two baskets within seconds of each other and from there Malachy's pulled away to confirm their status as the top boy's basketball school in the country.

St Malachy's Belfast: Aaron Goldring, Conor Quinn (18 pts), Peter O'Donnell, Odhran Eastwood, Adam Ryan, Aidan Quinn (17 pts), Callum McHugh, Dominic Lyttle, Sean Joe Lyttle, Liam Pettigrew (14 pts), John Largey, Martin Bell.

PRESENTATION COLLEGE BRAY: Edward Kearns, Dylan Brady, Marcus Nolan, Ashley O'Callaghan, Reece O'Callaghan, Marc Lennon (8 pts), Peter Conroy, Luke Gorman, Shane Davidson, Adam Mullery, Robert Wilson, Dylan Terry, Sam Friel, Thomas McGrath, Donal Ring (9 pts), Niall Magno, Andy Bartley (18 pts).