PHOTOS/REPORT: A Thrilling Finish Sees Warriors Win Against Swords

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Alan Cantwell on an amazing night at the complex which saw Garveys Tralee Warriors win against rivals Swords Thunder…

Goran Pantovic fires in for the Warriors. Photo by Liam Ryan

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors kept their hopes of Super League glory alive on Saturday night in the most dramatic fashion possible with a stunning one point win over Griffith College Swords Thunder in front of an ecstatic home crowd at the Tralee Sport Complex.

In a thrilling finale the Warriors managed to conjure up the winning basket with their last play of the game.

Trailing the visitors by one, Trae Pemberton’s drive to the basket saw Swords deflect the ball out of play and from the resulting restart with 10.9 seconds on the clock the Warriors point guard found Goran Pantovic who hooked the ball over the Swords Conroy Baltimore to land the decisive score.

The win leaves the Warriors in second place on the table level of points with leaders UCD Marian and among a group of five teams that still have a chance of winning the League.

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In front of an absolutely packed out Tralee Complex, Pantovic provided the Warriors opening score of the game but Conroy Baltimore and Travis Black soon responded for Swords and when Isaac Westbrooks struck twice for the visitors they led by 5.

Trae Pemberton shoots to score. Photo by Liam Ryan

Pa McCarthy fired in for the Warriors either side of two Pantovic efforts but Antonio Odunuga pushed Swords back in front. A number of Warriors drives by Eoin Quigley and Kieran Donaghy were halted by Swords defensive fouls and the resulting free throws were all dispatched with ease to see the Warriors lead 17-13 at quarter time.

Fergal O’Sullivan and Kevin Lacey swapped scores early in the second before Pantovic was again on the mark. What followed was a stunning display of three-point shooting from both sides that brought the Tralee crowd to their feet.

Alex Dolenko fired in two back-to-back threes before Fergal O’Sullivan sent in a towering effort from outside.

Dolenko did it again to reply in kind before Charlie Coombes landed one of his own. O’Sullivan stepped in to fire another before Trae Pemberton thought it was time to get in on the act and effortlessly swooshed from distance with a trademark three.

Kieran Donaghy drives to the board. Photo by Liam Ryan

Oisin Kerlin got his first score before Dolenko made it four threes in as many minutes. Westbrooks and O’Sullivan exchanged baskets before Guevara de la Torres hit a three on the buzzer to see Swords lead by three 40-37 at the long break.

Swords took the momentum of Guevara’s late score before the half to hit a spectacular sequence of scoring that produced 14 points without reply and give them a game winning position of a 15-point lead.

Three scores from Baltimore and one each from Lacey, Dolenko and Westbrooks with two free throws from Travis Black had Thunder lead by 54-39.

The Warriors looked to be in some disarray before Kieran Donaghy hauled his side back from the brink and into contention with a three followed by a typical driving score and added the extra to cut the deficit to 10.

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Donaghy powered through the Swords rearguard to land another before Pemberton’s second three of the evening left 8 between the sides as they straightened up for home.

Donaghy and Pantovic hit two early scores in the final quarter to leave a more manageable four between the team.

Baltimore gave Swords a little more breathing space with success from the line and another score under the board before Pemberton steered the Warriors right back into the contention with four sublime threes in a row punctuated only by a three from Dolenko, a score from Westbrooks and two from the line from Lacey.

All of a sudden it was a one-point game with both sides giving absolutely everything to get over the line.

Kieran Donaghy scores from inside. Photo by Liam Ryan

Baltimore looked like he had stolen a march on the Warriors with a score from inside but Quigley calmly responded in kind with a basket from right under the board to leave just one between the sides again.

And then those beautifully uncertain final seconds when the Warriors needed their last play to be executed perfectly – Pemberton passed to Pantovic who found the space and composure to hook the ball in to sent the huge Tralee Complex crowd into a total frenzy.

Swords still had 6 seconds to summon up an equally dramatic response to win the game but when Westbrooks attempt to find the basket it was Pantovic who got a big hand on the ball to reject Thunder’s final effort.

Cue absolute bedlam at the Complex as the Warriors faithful celebrated the crucial win over their League title rivals to keep their hopes of League glory very much alive with just two games remaining.

It was a very special and quite unforgettable night of great basketball and even greater drama at the home of the Warriors.


Warriors: Trae Pemberton 22, Goran Pantovic 18, Kieran Donaghy 15

Swords Thunder: Conroy Baltimore 17, Alex Dolenko 15, Isaac Westbrooks 13

The Warriors now make the journey to the Oblate Hall in Inchicore next Saturday night when they face the League Champions and National Cup holders Black Amber Templeogue in what promises to be absolute cracking contest in the second last game of the regular season.

The Oblate will be packed to the rafters for a Super League showdown and tip off in Inchicore is at 8.00pm.

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