REPORT/PHOTOS: Warriors Make It Back-To-Back Champions Trophy Titles

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Alan Cantwell reports on Garvey’s Tralee Warriors fantastic win last night to retain the Champions Trophy…

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors celebrate their Champions Trophy victory.

For the second year running Garvey’s Tralee Warriors lifted the Basketball Ireland Champions Trophy after a stunning 73-61 win over Black Amber Templeogue at a packed WIT Arena in Waterford on Saturday night.

Twelve months ago the Warriors edged out the same opposition in an absorbing final on Letterkenny, this year they did it with a little more style and comfort and the 12 point winning margin reflected the overall domination of their Super League rivals.

The Warriors were first on the mark through Trae Pemberton but the reigning National Cup champions laid down an early marker with a 10-point volley from Mike Bonaparte, Jason Killeen, Neil Randolph and Stephen James.

Pemberton fired in twice for the Warriors and when Goran Pantovic continued his good scoring form the sides were level.

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Two scores from Lorcan Murphy either side of a Jason Killeen effort from inside put Templeogue six ahead before Pemberton stepped in to position for a sublime three pointer to cut the Dublin sides lead to 17-14 at the first quarter buzzer.

Kieran Donaghy celebrates with Warrior fans.

The game opened up in the second quarter with Randolph and Murphy again in range for Templeogue before a super three from Pa McCarthy and a determined effort from Dusan Bogdanovic had the Warriors back on level terms.

Killeen and James kept the Dublin side moving along before Pemberton found the space and time to launch two stunning threes before Paul Dick danced through the Templeogue defence to bank in to give the Warriors a four-point lead.

Killeen and Paul Dick swapped scores before Pemberton and Randolph exchanged threes and the Warriors went to the long break with a 36-32 lead.

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The third quarter saw the sides stand toe to toe and go score for score in an outstanding display at both ends of the court.

Pantovic and Paul Dick shared four scores before Killeen and Murphy did likewise, and when Pemberton and Puff Summers were both on the mark the Warriors maintained their half time advantage at 46-42.

Kieran Donaghy in action. Photo by Liam Ryan

But in an instant Paul Dick weaved his magic to get to the Templeogue board twice before Pantovic hooked in another and the lead was out to 10.

Lorcan Murphy hit back for the Dublin side in typical athletic fashion before Bogdanovic stood firm to fire in and give Warriors a potential game winning lead of 54-45 turning for home.

Bogdanovic pushed the Warriors advantage out to seven early in the final quarter but Mark Keenan’s charges weren’t going down without a fight and Killeen, Murphy and James cut the deficit to five with three quick fire scores.

Warriors celebrate.

Then the real drama of the night ensued as Trae Pemberton firstly fired in his fifth three of the night before one of the referees called the point guard for a foul which at first view looked like he had cited the wrong player, Pemberton’s gesture of disbelief was interpreted as dissent and the official added a technical.

Pemberton’s and the Warriors woes were further compounded when he received a further technical for a show of frustration and all of a sudden the Tralee side had to try to win the game without their scoring talisman.

Jason Killeen then proved his class from the free throw line with six flawless shots in a row and the lead was cut to 2.

Trae Pemberton in action. Photo by Liam Ryan

A Paul Dick effort either side of two from Pantovic got the Warrriors back in gear and when Dick launched a breathtaking three with 2’06’’ on the clock to cap a thoroughly deserved MVP performance, the huge travelling Tralee support were singing and dancing in the aisles.

In a fitting finale, the Warriors last score of the game came from the player that epitomises the team’s fighting spirit. Having bossed the outstanding Mike Bonaparte throughout the game, Kieran Donaghy nonchalantly laid up to leave the final scoreline reading Garvey’s Tralee Warriors 73 Black Amber Templeogue 61.

Captain Darren O’Sullivan accepted the Champions Trophy from Basketball Ireland President Teresa Walsh as the mass of Warriors fans celebrated in style.

Scores for Warrriors: Paul Dick 22, Trae Pemberton 21, Goran Pantovic 14

Templeogue: Jason Killeen 22, Lorcan Murphy 14, Stephen James 8

Action from the game. Photo by Liam Ryan

For the Warriors it has been a tremendous second season for the club as with back-to-back Champions Trophy titles and they were prime contenders for the League title right down the stretch before succumbing to Black Amber Templeogue at the Oblate Hall after overtime. The departure of Goran Pantovic who finished the year in outstanding form will be balanced out by the arrival of the hugely impressive Paul Dick.

And some of the nights at the Tralee Sports Complex this season will also live long in the memory. Only 173 sleeps till the Complex is rocking again!

Action from the game. Photo by Liam Ryan

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