Basketball: Tralee Imperials Miss Out On Chance To Go Top

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ImperialsWomen’s National League Division 1, Mounthawk Gym, Saturday 

Garvey’s Imperials 63 

Portlaoise 74

In the Women’s National League Division table-topping clash, Garvey’s succumbed to the potent outside shooting of the Laois outfit before a large crowd at Mounthawk Gym on Saturday last.

Portlaoise , with the highly impressive US import Kelsey Wolfe , were in determined mood from the tip-off and took the game to the home side with many impressive fast break scores and white hot spot up shooting.

Imperials played well to remain in contention throughout the encounter but poor finishing in high percentage positions proved to be their undoing. A 26pts to 17pts lead at the end of the first quarter did not flatter the visitors and with experienced guard Maeve O’Sullivan setting the tone with two successful long range efforts Imperials knew they had a fight on their hand to topple the rampant Portlaoise team.

The second quarter saw home team captain Lynn Jones match up on Wolfe and she dramatically curtailed the American’s scoring influence however the outside accuracy of O’Sullivan continued to hurt Imperial from beyond the arc.

For Tralee, Emma Sherwood was not found wanting with defensive intensity and strong drives to the basket keeping the locals in game. Imperials had an opportunity to whittle the lead down to three points coming up the the half time break but costly turnovers and clinical opportunism from Portlaoise meant that Garvey’s trailed 34-27 at the half time buzzer.

Both sides resumed with increased intensity and the pace was relentless in the opening minutes of the third quarter.

Portlaoise continued to maintain their lead despite Loretta Maher, Michelle Hoare and Amy Fitzgerald putting the pressure on with some great offensive rebounding. Cassandra Buckley , as well as curbing the considerable threat of O’Sullivan, was becoming increasingly influential as the quarter wound down with the advantage still with the visitors 53-42.

The final quarter saw the Midlanders consolidate their position with Kelsey Wolfe displaying all the experience and skills that made her an elite player in the prestigious NCAA. While she averages 36.3pts per game in the league she also is adept at bringing her teammates into the action and deftly creating scoring chances with astute passes.

Imperials did come within five points with a little over two minutes remaining but the visitors proved their superiority by converting some tough shots under pressure and converting late opportunities from the free throw line.

Garvey’s next outing is against Oblate Dynamos in Dublin on February 1. Imperials: L. Maher 20pts, E. Sherwood 19, L. Jones 9, C.Buckley 5, M. Hoare 4, D. Kearney 3, A. Fitzgerald, R. O’Shea, R. Lucey, D. Pierse, M. Carmody.

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