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On teh final day of the regular season, Gleneagle Lakers leapt from fourth to second in the Southern Conference with a huge win over Burgerking Limerick 125-98. Dejan Smith the weekends stop scorer on 41 pts had a big influence on the game. Lakers finished the regular season with a flourish only losing two games since Christmas. With this form they have secured second spot and vital home advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
In contrast to this, Neptune have won only two games since November. They lost at home to bottom of the table Waterford Crystal 98-100 who notched up only their fourth win of the season. Neptune have to relinquish the title they so proudly won last year when they slipped out of the play off spots. Their last home game of the season saw Watson, Langrell and Gamble make a last ditch effort as they combined for 26 of the 35 home side points as Neptune lead the quarter 35 - 25. The trend continued in the second quarter as the home side put in one of their best first half performances for a long time as they led Waterford 66-45 at the break. Neptune turnovers allowed Waterford back into the game and Travis Jackson came alive and hit 16 points of his total 26 in the third quarter. With 5 min left in the quarter and a 96-89 home side lead, Gamble left the game on his fifth foul. This rocked Neptune and with 24 seconds left an open lay-up gave Waterford a 98-100 victory to end a dismal Neptune season.
Mardyke UCC Demons lost their chance to hold onto second when they went down to Horan’s Healthstore Tralee 86-96. Inspired play by Kieran Donaghy and the hobbled Brandon Mason insured the home team had a 41-30 lead at the half. In the second half, Travarus Bennett poured in five three-point bombs in a row to open up a 22 point Tralee lead. Still, the Demons clawed back, but it wasn't enough. Tigers, who had the worst record in Ireland a year ago, finish the regular season 16-4. Demons finish third while only two weeks ago they were looking at second and home court advantage.
MDS Star finally clinched second place in the northern conference with a hard fought win over St Vincents 80-72. This game had the look of an end of season game but John Leahy impressed on 25 and Pat Campolieta on 24. This win secures second place for Star and home court advantage with UCD Marian finishing in third. Shamrock Rovers Hoops played their final home game in Mountmellick, the nearest approved gym, because the ESB Arena was unavailable, but instead it was DART Killester who shot like they were the home team as they ran out comfortable winners on a score of 102 to 82.
So now the play off games look like this. Next weekend Gleneagle Lakers will host UCD Marian and MDS Star will host Mardyke UCC Demons. The winners of these games going to Cork the following weekend to the Superleague Playoffs.
The women’s Superleague playoffs threw up some exciting games as Waterford Wildcats crashed back into form with an overtime win 80-79 over Dart Killester who themselves had been in good form of late. 18 yr old Lisa Palmer starred in this victory with 18 pts and Wildcats were thankful for the timely return of Nicole Conway, their American who has been missing since January with a shoulder injury. Wildcats had been dismal of late but crunch time came and they all stepped up. Nicole pulled them back into contention in the second half and were losing by 10 at the start of the fourth quarter. Free throws misses at crucial times by Killester lost them a game they should have won. They had a couple of opportnities to win. Carmel Kissane had two free throws to win in regulation but missed them both. Lisa Palmer hit a fast break lay up to tie the game and go into overtime. Killester then missed 5 of 6 free throws in over time to hand it to Wildcats who fought hard all the way and with grit and determination giving them the chance. 12 seconds to go Wildcats go up one from Jenny Maher who then proceeds to foul on the inbound ball. Suzanne Maguire has another chance to clinch the game with two free throws but misses them both. Killester’s Suzanne Maguire and Gillian Morris fought all the way but Wildcats just edged it out in overtime. They will rue the free throw misses shooting under 50% where as Wildcats hit 17 for 19 which always kept them involved.
Drimnagh Dynamos are also now into the semi final of the playoffs with an impressive win over Vienna Woods Glanmire. They led well at half time 49-27 and Tamala Vaughan and Emer Foley worked well together inside to hit 19 and 16 points respectively. With that deficit at half time there was too much for Glanmire to do and lost 79-69. Drimnagh now have the mighty task of playing unbeaten University of Limerick at home in the semi final round while Wildcats will have to travel to Killarney to play Scruffy’s St Pauls next weekend.
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