Men’s Super League 2023/2024 – Round 17

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors 81

Maree 89

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors hopes of securing home court advantage for the upcoming playoffs were dealt a serious blow when going down by 89-81 to Maree in their last home game of the regulation season at the Tralee Sports Complex on Sunday afternoon. The win sees Maree remain in pole position in the Southern Conference with Ballincollig’s win at home to Belfast Star on Saturday helping the Cork side’s quest to seal a second place spot on the ladder. The Warriors now face the prospect of a third place finish which will see them taking a difficult road trip to face the second placed team in the Northern Conference when the standings are finalised in two weeks time.

Maree started brightly with Terence Lewis landing a double inside the opening 90 seconds but new signing Elijah Weaver heralded his arrival to Tralee with a well taken major score with his first touch and when Caleb Jordan followed up with an basket from inside the Warriors led 6-4. Tom Dumont knocked down his first of four threes of the day but Daniel Jokubaitis countered immediately to level the game at 11-11 midway through the quarter. Ty Gadsden soloed his way to Maree’s next 10 points to edge the visitors ahead with an impressive volley but Weaver, Jordan and Cian Sullivan combined to cut the gap to a single point 20-21 at quarter time.

The game ebbed and flowed through the second quarter with the sides level on no fewer than six occasions. A double from distance from Jokubaitis and another major from Weaver either side of an Eddie Sheehy drive saw the Warriors briefly lead but four in a row from Lewis restored parity at 31-31 half way through the quarter. Maree continued to test the Warriors defensive resolve from all angles and baskets from Dumont, Lewis and Zvomimir Cutuk eased the Galway side 39-35 ahead. However the Warriors responded well with Sullivan bossing the exchanges under the Maree board landing a double and efforts from inside and outside from Rap Buivydas and Jokubaitis locked up the scores again at 43-43 at half time.

Gadsden and Dumont were on the mark for Maree again early in the third but a signature Jokubaitis three and a double from Eoin Quigley saw the Warriors take the lead again. The hosts’ aggressive defence proved costly as Maree took full advantage of a number of fouls through Gadsden, Kyle Carey and John Burke to take a decisive 64-57 lead. Baskets from Quigley and another double from Sullivan kept the Warriors well in touch but a huge three from Eoghan Rockall ensured that the visitors took a 68-63 lead into the final quarter.

Dumont was in range from beyond the arc again early in the fourth but scores from Weaver and back to back efforts from Jordan pared the Maree lead back to single score. The Galway side looked the more likely to prevail when Dumont, Cutuk and Rockall combined to open up an eight point lead as the clock ticked down but Weaver from distance and another mid range effort from Jordan saw the gap cut to just a single score again. The game was effectively settled with two major scores, the first from Kyle Carey and the second from Tom Dumont leaving the Warriors to scramble for a dramatic late comeback. However, the home side’s failure to convert six from eight free throws allied to Daniel Jokubaitis and Kieran Donaghy fouling out late on sealed their fate on a final scoreline of 89-81.

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors: Daniel Jokubaitis 19, Elijah Weaver 18, Cian Sullivan 15
Maree: Ty Gadsden 22, Tom Dumont 22, Terence Lewis 20

Next up for the Warriors is a tough road trip to face Killester at the IWA in Clontarf next weekend. Anything but a win for John Dowling’s side will cement their third place on the Conference table ahead of the last game of the regulation season when they travel to Moycullen on St. Patrick’s weekend. The Warriors’ slim hopes of a home quarter final rest on winning both their remaining games and Ballincollig losing away to both University of Ulster and a Cork derby with Neptune in their last two games. This combination of results would see the sides finish level on 36 points each but the Warriors would secure second spot by virtue of a four point advantage in the home and away record between the sides from their 86-73 win at home against their 80-71 loss away.

In a game decided by the smallest of margins, there could be a twist in the tale yet.

Credit to Liam Ryan for the images

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