St Fintan's HS 54
Calasanctius Oranmore 46
SUTTON'S St Fintan's High School will be contesting their first league final in two years after coming through with eight points to spare over the Cup champions at the Arena on Tuesday.
Leading scorer on the day was Eric Westbrooks who will aim to join brothers Michael (a starter on Killester's Superleague Cup-winning team in January), Aaron and Isaac who have won national medals with the famed Sutton school.
Eric's father, Jerome, last guided Fintan's to victory in the national league decider two years ago with a team that included Eoin Chubb and Michael Hennebry, both of who are now plying their trade in the Superleague with Hoops and Killester respectively.
The game was no classic but Fintan's once again kept it tight and tidy on their own backboards with Westbrooks and Ciaran Rowe snuffing out the considerable threat of Kenneth Hansberry.
Hansberry turned in an MVP display against St Benildus in the Cup final in January with a massive 43 points. But, despite some solid defensive rebounding, he never reached the same heights here. Oranmore, under John Finn, lost Irish U16 Enda Walsh early in the game, but the Galway team can have no complaints about the result.
The two teams were tied at 9-9 at the end of the first quarter but Fintan's immediately laid down the gauntlet when a power drive from Steven McGrath resulted in a lay-up from the Fintan's No9 straight after the resumption.
And with Rowe registering a high percentage rate from the free-throw line, Fintan's slowly edged in front with baskets from Rowe and Westbrooks, combined with a crucial block from McGrath, putting them 23-20 up at half-time.
And with Irish U16 and Killester underage talent Mikey Deegan featuring prominently, Fintan's pushed on as Rowe unlocked the Oranmore defence with two terrific three-pointers.
That, coupled with a McGrath lay-up off Westbrooks' quick pass, was to open a double scores lead for Fintan's before Hansberry countered with two late baskets to cut Fintan's lead to 39-31 at the end of the third.
But, despite a good showing from Colin O'Hagan in the final quarter, the Fintan's combo of McGrath and Westbrooks ensured a comfortable win. Fintan's now await the winners of Presentation Bray (who beat Coláiste éanna in a friendly on Tuesday) and North Mon AG in tomorrow's other semi-final.
St Fintan's Sutton: Conor Mahon, Ciaran Rowe (13 pts), Mikey Deegan, Mark Hughes, Stephen McGrath (11 points), David Kenny, Kris van Houtte, Darren McNeill, Eric Westbrooks (18 pts), Andrew Colfer.