V Portlaoise Panthers on 2nd February 2013
Team Left Bank Kilkenny – 83
Portlaoise Panthers – 50
There has been a great rivalry built up over the past 10 years between the Men’s Team’s from Kilkenny and Portlaoise in both the Midlands and National Leagues. With Team Left Bank concentrating on the National League this year they withdrew from the Midlands League while Portlaoise withdrew from the National League. However, for the first time Portlaoise entered the South East Area league this season which has renewed this ongoing rivalry.
Team Left Bank came away with a narrow victory in Portlaoise earlier in the year, Julian O’Keeffe breaking hearts with a last second floater to give the visitors a 1 point win. On Wednesday night the return leg was played in Kilkenny and an excellent game was expected.
Portlaoise were without a number of very influential players and bore the brunt of an excellent team performance from Left Bank. New signing Puff Summers who played NCAA Division 1 College Basketball in America before coming to Ireland 6 years ago was in the line up for the home team who proved too strong for the visitors on the night.
Julian O’Keeffe who has been one of the stand out players at National League level this year was in excellent form and has struck up a great partnership with Summers in the past few weeks. Brian Hogan who is the most improved player in the squad this season was unstoppable hitting 14 points and shooting a 90% average on the night.
The home team got off to a strong start in the first quarter playing a very tight 3-2 zone cutting out the long range threat posed by Portlaoise, Jack Scully impressing early on for the visitors keeping them in touch in the early exchanges. James Butler was fired up and himself and Padraig Morrissey were a major threat inside all night working very well off each other. The fast break game was working with Julian O’Keeffe one of the best finishers in any league hitting form early on. There was just 9 points between them at the end of the first so still all to play for.
Noel O’Hara and Liam O’Shaughnessy led the charge in the second period with the former just returning from a spell on the sidelines with injury. This quarter was very even as Greg Dunne put some points on the board and Eddie Maher hit a big three pointer in the quarter. The energy in defence was phenomenal from Team Left Bank as they held their opponents to just nineteen points in the first half while hitting forty one of their own.
Team Left Bank were consistent in each quarter notching an average of twenty one points to their opponents thirteen. Noel Murphy was a thorn in the opponents side as usual dominating the defensive boards for the Left Bank and picking up a few offensive boards for good measure. The pace of the game eventually started to tell on the Portlaoise lads and while they never gave up to the final buzzer they were unable to match the strength in depth of the Left Bank squad on this night.
The fast break game really worked for the home team and they were lethal with their execution. This win puts them out on top of the league, undefeated so far for the season with a trip to Tramore coming up in a couple weeks.