InsureMyVan.ie Men’s Super League 2022/2023 – Round 2
Garvey’s Tralee Warriors 83
Belfast Star 87
Garvey’s Tralee Warriors will rarely be in a better position to win a game going into the final quarter this season but a loss of composure and discipline ultimately gifted the three League points on offer to Belfast Star with a fully deserved 87-83 win. Leading 75-61 at the end of the third the Warriors simply had to hold their nerve but instead they lost the plot with a catalogue of technical fouls ceding control of the game they worked so hard to establish.
It was all so different in the early exchanges and in an entertaining opening quarter the sides went score for score throughout. Matija Jokic started brightly getting the Warriors first on the board before Dre Jackson picked up from his display last week to get on the mark from either side of the arc. Belfast also found the basket with regularity through Max Cooper and Shon Briggs and midway through the quarter the sides were level at 17-17. Briggs added a three from the visitors before the Warriors replied with two major scores from Jackson and Fergal O’Sullivan to lead 26-22 at the end of the opening chapter.
Cooper and Andrée Michelsson exchanged baskets at the start of the second before a three from Jokic sparked an immediate response from Belfast with two huge threes from Conor Quinn added to a minute later by another major from the impressive Max Richardson edged the visitors ahead. Dre Jackson hit back for the hosts but Richardson, Jonathan James and Briggs combined to push Belfast 44-37 ahead. However the Warriors steadied the ship with a quick fire 6 point cameo from Jackson either side of a Jokubaitis effort to cut the visitors advantage to a single point at the long break.
The Warriors had the sizable home crowd on their feet with a sensational start to the third quarter. The scores simply rained down with Jokic, Jackson, Michelsson and Jokubaitis firing in from either side of the arc allied to four defensive stops left 14 between the sides midway through the quarter. Conor Quinn stemmed the flow temporarily before Jackson and Jokubaitis restored the Warriors double digit lead. The first technical fouls of the evening were then dished out to Kieran Donaghy and Max Cooper as the sides went score for score late in the quarter but when Jokic arced in a cracking effort for three the Warriors looked like they had a game winning lead of 75-61 at three quarter time.
Despite Briggs and Richardson cutting the Warriors advantage early in the final quarter nothing could have prepared the home crowd for the drama that was to follow. Firstly Kieran Donaghy hit the five foul limit and exited the game before scores from Briggs and Cooper quickly cut the gap to a much more manageable four points. Conor Quinn hit another three to leave a single point between the teams and in the very next play a foul called on Eoin Quigley led to an interaction with the referee that earned him a technical and fifth foul to end his night with 3 minutes on the clock. The technical foul count continued to rise for the Warriors when Jackson was next to receive the sanction followed by Jokubaitis who received two in a minute to see him leave the game before time. One more technical for Darragh O’Hanlon completed the indisciplined stretch for the hosts with each of the indiscretions punished from the free throw line by Conor Quinn and Shon Briggs.
Jokic gave the Warriors a lifeline and a chance by edging them 83-82 ahead with 39 seconds on the clock. However with the Warriors in disarray and deep in foul trouble, Belfast keep their cool and their nerve with Richardson, Briggs and the outstanding Conor Quinn landing the insurance scores to see out the win by 87-83 and do what no team managed to do last season – lower the Warriors colours on their home court.
Top scorers: Garvey’s Tralee Warriors: Dre Jackson 29, Matija Jokic 22, Daniel Jokubaitis 15
Belfast Star: Shon Briggs 24, Conor Quinn 21, Max Richardson 20
Next up for the Garvey’s Tralee Warriors is a chance to regroup and regather with their first away game of the season when they travel to take on University of Galway Maree next Saturday the 15th October with a 7.00pm tip off.