The first games of the 2019 National League season kicked off this weekend as the Portlaoise Panthers men and women took to the court.
Both teams were victorious following strong performances as the Ladies traveled to Castleisland to take on St Mary’s and the men played host to LYIT Donegal.
The women now sit second on the Division 1 table while the men sit at 5th place of the Southern Conference Division 1 table.
Portlaoise Panthers 69 St Marys Castleisland 65
Women’s Division 1 National League Basketball
Panther’s women were first on the court this weekend where they beat hosts Castleisland by 4 points after a nail biting finish.
The ladies trailed by 12 points early in the 4th quarter and equalized with just 30 seconds to spare. They pulled off a super win with much thanks to 12 points from Sinéad Melia in the final 10 minutes.
The opening quarter of the game saw Panthers outscore their opponents 14-8 with scores from captain Catherine Ashe getting her side up and running.
Scores came Claire Melia, Ciara Wheeler and Sinéad Melia while Maeve Cahillane claimed the first 3 pointer of the game.
The second quarter was the awakening of the Kerry side as they outscored Portlaoise 20-15.
Ciara Wheeler racked up Panthers first 3 baskets of the the quarter followed by Sinéad Melia, Ciara Byrne, Sharon Melia and sister Claire.
Ashe closed the quarter with two freethrows to leave the halftime score 29-28 to Portlaoise.
The drama was only beginning as the third quarter would see Panthers outscored by 10 points.
Ashe and and Sinéad Melia dropped 5 freethrows between them in the opening minutes and from there Melia took charge for Portlaoise following up with another 7 points before Jamie Sherburne and Claire Melia also scored to end the quarter.
The fourth quarter was not for the faint hearted and showed the character of this Portlaoise team.
Sinéad Melia lead her side over the line sinking 12 points – three 2 pointers and 6 freethrows.
Melia didn’t do it all alone however as scores from Cahillane, Shauna Dooley, Claire Melia and Ciara Wheeler made all the difference to give supporters a game to remember.
SCORERS – Sinéad Melia; 27, Claire Melia; 12, Ciara Wheeler; 10, Catherine Ashe; 7, Maeve Cahillane; 5, Shauna Dooley; 4, Ciara Byrne; 2, Sharon Melia; 1, Jamie Sherburne; 1
PORTLAOISE PANTHERS – Shauna Dooley, Ciara Wheeler, Maeve Cahillane, Ciara Byrne, Deirdre Tomlinson, Sinéad Melia, Catherine Ashe (c), Claire Melia, Sharon Melia, Jamie Sherburne
Portlaoise Panthers 95 LYIT Donegal 78
Men’s Division 1 National League Basketball
The men were next up to get the new year of basketball up and going as they welcomed LYIT Donegal to St Mary’s Hall on Sunday afternoon.
The impressive pairing of Mike Pierre and Mantas Vilimas, scoring 65 points between them, dominated for Portlaoise as they finished with a 17 point win.
Vilimas opened the game for his side with 4 baskets in a row followed by Mike Pierre’s first score of the game.
Captain Jack Dooley was next to the board before Pierre, James Phelan and Sean Condon all got their names on the scoresheet to see Panthers up 21-17 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was kicked off by Pierre and saw James Gormley claim his first basket of the game.
Pierre, Trevor Swayne, Vilimas and Gormley again contributed to the 24 points scored for the home side to see them outscore the visitors yet again, leaving the half time score at 45-37.
Dylan Dunne was first to score for Portlaoise in the second half of the game closely followed by scores from Pierre, Dooley and Vilimas.
Condon and Gary Morrissey were not shy of a score as they added to Panthers 29 points of the third quarter, 7 points ahead of the Donegal side.
Panthers headed into the fourth quarter confident of a win as they had already outscored the visitors in the previous 3 quarters and the final quarter would be no different.
Condon, Pierre, Dooley and Vilimas were the scorers of the final quarter to secure the win.
SCORES – Mike Pierre; 35, Mantas Vilimas; 30, Jack Dooley; 9, Sean Condon; 6, James Gormley; 4, Gary Morrissey; 3, Trevor Swayne; 2, Dylan Dunne; 2, Rian O’Connell; 2, James Phelan; 2
PORTLAOISE PANTHERS – Dylan Dunne, Mike Pierre, Jack Dooley (c), James Phelan, Conor Byrne, Trevor Swayne, Gary Morrissey, Mantas Vilimas, Sean Condon, Kyle Burke, Rian O’Connell, James Gormley