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Tralee Warriors start title defence with overtime win over Flexachem KCYMS in derby thriller

New signing De’Ondre Jackson nets late winner as Fergal O’Sullivan puts in a MVP performance for Tralee Warriors

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De'Ondre Jackson, Garvey's Tralee Warriors drives to the basket as RJ Kelly of Flexachem Killorglin attempts to block him in their Super League game at the Tralee Sports Complex. Photo by Domnick Walsh

De'Ondre Jackson, Garvey's Tralee Warriors drives to the basket as RJ Kelly of Flexachem Killorglin attempts to block him in their Super League game at the Tralee Sports Complex. Photo by Domnick Walsh

De'Ondre Jackson, Garvey's Tralee Warriors drives to the basket as RJ Kelly of Flexachem Killorglin attempts to block him in their Super League game at the Tralee Sports Complex. Photo by Domnick Walsh

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INSUREMYVAN.IE MEN’S SUPER LEAGUE ROUND 1

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors 105

Flexachem KCYMS 103

(after overtime)

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Garvey’s Tralee Warriors got their Super League title defence off to a winning start as they edged out Flexachem KCYMS in a pulsating and heart-stopping opening night derby at a packed Tralee Sports Complex on Saturday.

An MVP performance from Fergal O’Sullivan and two moments of magic from Daniel Jokubaitis and De’Ondre Jackson ensured the Warriors came out on the right side of the 105-103 score line after overtime in a game that will live long in the memory for those lucky enough to have been there to witness it.

Shane O’Connell landed the opening basket for the visitors before Dre Jackson levelled with his first score in Warriors colours. Flexachem’s American RJ Kelly opened his account and quickly doubled that a minute later to see KCYMS lead 8-5 midway through a low scoring first quarter.

Another of Tralee’s new signings, Andrée Michelsson, lifted the roof at the Complex with his and the Warriors first three-pointer but the impressive Pharoah Gordon and Liam Croke pushed the Killorglin side 12-8 ahead. Matija Jokic then fired in his first score for the hosts but Aleix Tarradellas, the former Neptune star, arced in a three to give KCYMS a 15-10 lead at quarter time.

The scores began to flow early in the second and player/coach Declan Wall and Gordon kept KCYMS in front but after scores from Michelsson and Jokic and a three from Fergal O’Sullivan, a major score from Latvian Aksels Skaitslauks left three between the sides.

Daniel Jokubaitis opened up for a typical effort from distance before Tarradellas, who looked threatening throughout, delivered identical threes to push KCYMS 34-27 in front. Jokic got on a quick run for the Warriors to fire in from inside and outside to cut the gap before Gordon and Kelly combined to maintain the visitors lead. The Warriors, through Jokic with two, and Kieran Donaghy and Jackson with a score apiece cut the gap to 44-45 at the long break.

Jokubaitis lifted the crowd with two show-stopping threes early in the third but Gordon and Kelly returned the compliment to keep the Warriors lead to a single score. O’Sullivan drained a three-pointer from close to the halfway line and followed that up a minute later with another trademark effort to see the hosts lead 60-54.

The dynamic Gordon continued to torment the Warriors rear-guard with scores from inside and when Tarradellas wound up for his fourth three of the night the lead changed hands again. But the Warriors would have the last word in the quarter when a quick double from Jokic was followed by another absolute cracker from O’Sullivan and the Warriors took a 69-65 lead down the stretch.

Jackson and O’Sullivan combined to edge the hosts further ahead early in the final quarter before Aksels Staistlauks hit three threes in a row, each one better than the next, and the momentum swung back to the visitors. However the Warriors wrestled the lead back with two from Jackson and one each from Donaghy and Jokubaitis but the hosts were in foul trouble and Tarradellas and Kelly took full advantage from the line to edge their side in front again.

The scores then simply rained down with the finish line in sight and threes from Jackson and Jokubaitis were cancelled out by two from Skaitslauks and one each from Gordon and Kelly, and KCYMS seemed to have done enough when they went 93-91 up with Gordon hitting two from two from the line. But the Warriors showed their premiership pedigree when up stepped Jokuabitis to stylishly hook in the equaliser and give the delighted crowd another five minutes of this classic.

The Warriors seemed intent on sealing the deal early in the extra period when Jackson fired in from inside and out to give the hosts a 98-93 lead but Kelly equalised with a pair of scores from either side of the arc. Jokic and another belter from O’Sullivan gave the Warriors the lead back but Kelly and Staitslauks found the net to ensure a breathless finale to the contest.

With just seconds left on the clock Jackson capped a memorable debut with his new team to weave a path to the board and give the Warriors the win in an absolute classic opening night derby.

Top scorers

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors: De’Ondre Jackson 28, Fergal O’Sullivan 24, Matija Jokic 23

Flexachem KCYMS: Pharoah Gordan 29, RJ Kelly 28, Aksels Skaitslauks 22


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