Summerhill College weathered a second-quarter wobble to see off CBS Thurles 33-26 and lift the 2023/24 All-Ireland Under 16B Boys Schools Cup in the National Basketball Arena on Wednesday.
It was Summerhill who enjoyed the best of it in the opening quarter as they carved out a six-point advantage, thanks in no small measure to Manus McManus and Michael Harte, who combined for nine points in that period while captain Brian Meehan weighed in with a basket just prior to the buzzer.
The scores were slow in coming in the second quarter and it was not until almost midway through that the scoreboard began ticking again when Jamie Connor drained two throws from the line for CBS Thurles.
It signalled the start of a comeback by the Tipperary side, for whom Emils Sakalausks served up two buckets that were quickly followed by a superb effort from outside the arc by Connor that tied the match at 17 points apiece.
There was still time for Sakalausks to land another basket for Thurles and it was that score alone that separated the two sides at the halftime break.
Buckets from Meehan and Thomas O’Brien served to steady the ship somewhat for Summerhill as they moved two points back in front just under three minutes into the third quarter.
Another Connor score left the bare minimum between the teams, but Summerhill enjoyed another surge over the closing two minutes of that period thanks to an O’Brien deuce and an excellent three from Harte that left them six points to the good heading into the fourth.
While Thurles were making the stops in the closing period, they were just not putting up enough at the other end, as a Rion Krasniqi basket, that brought them back to within four, was cancelled out by a deuce from Meehan with just over four minutes remaining.
And when both Meehan and O’Brien added another point when they went to the line late on, the Summerhill faithful knew their side had effectively done enough to secure the prize.
Delighted with his side’s victory in the decider, Summerhill College head coach, Gary Goldrick said “We’ve had a couple of tough matches this year that were really character-building games.
“We’re so lucky that the North-West region is improving every year, so we’re coming out of our region, playing hard game after hard game and I suppose that stood to us on the day.
“We just try to make things hard for the rest of the teams around us. The lads have committed to that and they were absolutely brilliant today.
“They’ve been absolutely brilliant all year. They’ve worked so hard and they’re just a great group to work with” he said
Quarter Scores: Q1: 14-8, Q2: 17-19, Q3: 28-22, Q4 33-26:
Dayo Bolarinwa, Keelan Mulligan, Jack Kelly, Brian Meehan, Manus McManus, Aaron Keane, Thomas Casey, James Lineen, Pearse Gallagher, Michael Harte, Alex Daly, Thomas O’Brien.
Head Coach: Gary Goldrick
Top Scorers: Brian Meehan (9), Michael Harte (9), Manus McManus (5), Thomas O’Brien (5).
Jamie Connor, Rion Krasniqi, Conn Fogarty, Padraic Callanan, Sean Bergin, Harry Bell, Reuben Blake, Samuel Ooi, Cathal Ryan, Emils Sakalausks, Michael Ryan, Criss Geronimo.
Head Coach: Niall Berry
Top Scorers: Jamie Connor (10), Rion Krasniqi (7), Emils Sakalausks (6).
MVP: Brian Meehan (Summerhill College)