Scotts Lakers miss out on President's Cup final place
President's Cup Semi-Final: Scotts Lakers St Paul's 74 Ballincollig BC 98
Despite enjoying an impressive start, Scotts Lakers were overpowered by Ballincollig in the Hula Hoops President's Cup semi-final in The Neptune Stadium Cork last Saturday night. The Cork side took over in the second quarter and their advantage was never really threatened after this. American Cameron Clark led the way for Ballincollig with 39 points against a Killarney side that failed to play to true potential on the night.
Scotts Lakers started in convincing fashion with Dailian Mason, Antuan Bootle and Philip O'Connor helping them to an early 10-5 lead. However Clark found his range and it was 10-10 midway through the first quarter. Lakers kept in touch with Mason prominent while Dan Griffin and Padraig Lucey caused problems for Ballincollig under the boards.
Mark Greene added a three-pointer but Clark and the O'Sullivan cousins, Ronan and Ciaran, were dominant and the Cork side enjoyed a 22-19 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Leading 28-23 after one minute, Ballincollig extended that advantage to 37-23 after three minutes with Clark and the O'Sullivans continuing to impress. Their pressurising full court press forced a succession of turnovers from Scotts Lakers while the Killarney side also failed to convert several free throws . Ballincollig led 48- 28 with three minutes left in the half . Baskets from Mason, Bootle , Griffin and Greene narrowed it to 55-39 at half-time.
It was still a big mountain to climb for Scotts Lakers as Mason and Bootle gave a glimmer of hope with baskets that closed the gap to 55-43 early in second half. However it was the closest they could get as there was no stopping Cameron Clark and Ballincollig led 62-43 after three minutes. Ballincollig made shot after shot and committed little or no violations in what was an extremely strong quarter for the Corkmen and they led 79-53 entering the final period.
The final quarter was a mere formality as Ballincollig's advantage extended to 30 points at one stage, 83-53. Another three-pointer from Dailian Mason and a succession of late scores from Antuan Bootle brought it back to 84-66 midway through final quarter. Bootle had 12 points in the final quarter where Lakers actually outscored Ballincollig 21-19 but it was all too little too late at this stage to threaten the Cork side's dominance.
Ballincollig enjoyed a comfortable 24 point win in the end and progress to the Cup final to meet Keane's Killorglin. Scotts Lakers will reflect on what might have been. It was never going to be easy against opposition that has one of the best Americans in the league in Cameron Clark and two outstanding Irish players in Ciaran and Ronan O'Sullivan.
A costly 14 turnovers and 10 missed free throws didn't help the Lakers cause either. They struggled to make any serious impact in the match and failed to punish Ballincollig in areas where pre-match expectations indicated that they had the potential to do so.
It is back to league action for the rest of the season now for Scotts Lakers and reaching a cup semi-final was still a big achievement in their first season back on the national stage after such a long absence.
Scotts Lakers: Antuan Bootle 27, Dailian Mason 13, Padraig Lucey 12, Mark Greene 9, Dan Griffin 8, Philip O'Connor 3, Andrew Fitzgerald 2.
Ballincollig: Cameron Clark 39, Ciaran O'Sullivan 18, Ronan O'Sullivan 18.