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Isaac walks tall as St Fintan's storm to glory

IRISH Junior International Player of the Year Isaac Westbrooks lit up the ESB Arena in Tallaght yesterday with a stunning fourth-quarter performance which inspired St Fintan's Sutton to a thrilling 64-60 victory over North Monastery, Cork in the final of the U-19A All-Ireland Schools Basketball Championship.

With his brother Aaron having fouled out and with his side trailing 46-52 after three-quarters, Westbrooks scored 11 points in the final quarter to help push St Fintan's past a gallant North Mon outfit.

Monastery, who had Cork hurling manager Donal O'Grady among their supporters, had hung onto their lead for most of the final quarter and, indeed, held a two-point lead with only 47 seconds left on the clock.

Not surprisingly, it was Westbrooks who dug out the big scores at just the right moment. He scored four points in the space of 17 seconds to put St Fintan's in front before Michael Chubb sealed the win by calmly converting two free throws with 7.6 seconds remaining.

The final whistle sparked fantastic celebrations among the Sutton players and supporters alike.

The game lived up to the quality of the recent National Junior Cup final between Dart Killester and the Mardyke UCC Blue Demons - a game in which many of the players on show yesterday also competed.

On that occasion the Cork side, led by MVP Niall Murphy, were victorious but, although Murphy put in another impressive performance yesterday, his 18-point contribution wasn't enough to stop Westbrooks and Co.

Westbrooks, who scored 29 points in total, won the MVP award as the St Fintan's team coached by his father Jerome, clinched the schools' senior title for the fourth time since 1999.

St Fintan's victory completed a marvellous double for the Westbrooks family as Jerome's daughter, Leah, inspired Holy Faith Clontarf to the girls' U-16 title last week.

In the U-16A boys' final, St Malachy's of Belfast put in a master class of both offensive and defensive play to comfortably defeat De La Salle Waterford 51-28.

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Malachy's had heroes in Ben Loughrey (15) and Ciaran McVeigh (20), with McVeigh securing the MVP award.

The game was effectively over after St Malachy's had raced into a 27-14 lead by half-time, but Willie Walshe did his upmost to get De La Salle back into the game, scoring 18 of his sides 28 point total.

There was a nail-biting finish to the U-16C final, in which Templeogue College eventually saw off the challenge of Patrician Academy of Mallow 32-31 to secure their first All-Ireland title in five years.

Trailing by two points with less than six seconds to go, Mallow had an incredible six free throws before the end, but they managed to convert only one of those attempts.

David Guilmartin was the undisputed choice for MVP. The classy Templeogue guard showed all the composure and creativity of a young Adrian Fulton as he chipped in with four massive three-pointers and also dictated his team's offence with some precise passing.


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