Warriors edge local derby to stay in pole position for home quarter final

InsureMyVan.ie Men’s Super League 2021/2022 – Round 15

Team 360 Financial Killorglin 65

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors 74

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors took another step towards securing a home League quarter final playoff with a 74-65 win over Team 360 Financial Killorglin at the Killorglin Sports Complex on Saturday night. Allied to C&S Neptune’s defeat to Tradehouse Central Ballincollig in Cork, it leaves the Warriors in prime position to host a quarter final playoff on the weekend of the 19th/20th of March

The Warriors stormed into the contest to immediately seize the initiative and build a sizable 15-2 lead by the midway point in the quarter. Scores from Eoin Quigley, Nikola Roso, Daniel Jokubaitis and stunning three from Aaron Calixte powered the Warriors ahead with Killorglin’s token resistance a single score from point guard Allan Thomas. The home side did struggle to get shots to land but managed to eat into the Warriors lead when Simon Francis, Xabier Arriaga and Isa Brandon combined to cut the gap back to single figures but back-to-back baskets from Ron Elksnis saw the Warriors lead 19-13 at the end of the first quarter.

The Warriors offensive effort stepped up a notch in the second and scores from Roso and Calixte edged the visitors further ahead. Killorglin’s defensive indiscipline was also punished with 6 from 8 from free throws and the Warriors advantage was out to 29-13. The game quickly turned into a shootout with both sides firing in threes that had the sizable crowd in full voice. Roso and Calixte both fired in from outside the arc before Arriaga replied by launching two identical quality efforts from either side of the court. Darragh O’Hanlon had the final say in the quarter as he knocked down a buzzer beating three from well beyond the line to give Warriors a 40-25 lead at the long break.

The Warriors continued to hold their local rivals at arm’s length when they increased their lead early in the third after Roso dropped in an effort from close range. Two in a row from Arriaga who was busy throughout and a three from Liam Croke kept Killorglin in the game but O’Hanlon’s second three before a double from distance from Jokubaitis put 21 points between the sides at the midway point. Warriors foul trouble allowed Killorglin to chip away at the lead with Eoghan O’Sullivan and Simon Francis in particular profiting, but a quick double from Quigley and a basket each from Roso and Brandon Cotton saw the visitors bring a 61-45 lead down the stretch.

The vocal home crowd called for a final push early in the fourth quarter and their team duly obliged with Shane O’Connell and Francis cutting the gap to 12. A pull up two from Calixte and another arced effort from Jokubaitis looked to have restored order but Killorglin took off on a run that saw them shoot their way right back into the contest. Arriaga and player coach Declan Wall lifted the home crowd with two big threes and when Allan Thomas returned three from three from the free throw line and followed that up with another fast break score after Francis had batted in a rebound, the hosts had cut the Warriors lead to 66-62 with two minutes on the clock. However, just when a shock result looked likely, former Killorglin star Daniel Jokubaitis delivered two killer scores with identical threes to seal the win and bring the Warriors fans to their feet. Aaron Calixte’s two from two from the line late on added a little shine to the final scoreline of 74-65.

Top scorers:

Team 360 Financial Killorglin: Xavier Arriaga 17, Allan Thomas 10, Simon Francis 10

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors: Aaron Calixte 22, Nikola Roso 14 Daniel Jokubaitis 14

Next up for the Garvey’s Tralee Warriors is the final game of the regulation League season when they face a trip to Neptune Stadium to face C&S Neptune, the side they defeated to claim the Pat Duffy National Cup in Dublin in January on Saturday evening with tip off at 6.30pm. 

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