The reigning Premier Cup Champions Dungannon made the journey to Letterkenny to square off against LYIT in the Ulster Premier League last Thursday.
Dungannon Cavaliers 83
The game was played in the Aura leisure centre, in what turned out to be a tremendous match up between two highly rated teams, with very little between them from start to finish.
It was Dungannon who started the game on the front foot jumping out to an early five point lead through Gedvilas but the home side responded with Conor Boyle driving aggressively to the basket and converting his free throws.
Both teams were finding numerous gaps in each others defense in the first period, with LYIT scoring on their drives to the basket while Dungannon were connecting from long range. The first quarter ended 21 apiece.
The away side hit first again to open the period through Siaulytis scoring nicely inside, but team captain Mark Cannon responded for LYIT with a strong spin move, in which he got fouled on and converted the free throw. Seamus Hickey and Steve Cannon were getting more stops on the defensive end now for LYIT and this lead to a few easy fast break points.
Conor Dorrian, Padraig Barrett and Shaun Wogan entered the game and performed well for the home side. However just on the halftime buzzer, Mantas Macivas scored a half court shot for the visitors to tie the game at the half 38-38.
LYIT found their outside shooting touch in the quarter with Steve Cannon scoring back to back three point shots, while Conor Boyle added one of his own. Ger Murray was causing havoc inside and scored eight points of his own in the quarter to give his team some breathing space with a four-point lead. But the Cavaliers would not be disheartened by this and fought back with two three-point shots towards the end of the quarter. The home side led 60-56 after three.
Dungannon put a run together here and it caused LYIT some concern as they turned the ball over on a couple of possessions in a row. Siaulytis scored 10 points in the quarter for the away side to give them a five-point lead going in to the final minutes. LYIT dug deep and used a superb team defensive effort to tie the game up with less than ten seconds left but they couldn’t execute on the offensive end and missed on the buzzer to send the game into overtime with a score line of 71-71.
Mark Cannon opened the scoring for Letterkenny in overtime through a drive to the basket, only to be cancelled out quickly by Gedvilas on the other end. Both teams were still going at a phenomenal pace despite such a fast paced and physical battle. With one minute left, Dungannon led 79-74. However, a basket from Murray and Boyle brought them within one-point. Dungannon missed two key free throws and LYIT called a timeout with seven seconds left, and trailing by one point.
They ran a perfect play to get Seamus Hickey opened for a drive and he got fouled with one second left, sending him to the free throw line. He calmly converted one of two free throws to tie the game once again and send it in to second overtime.
Throughout the whole game, no team led by more than five points at any stage, and there was multiple lead changes, just showing how evenly matched these teams were. It was only until the second overtime period that LYIT showed their superior fitness and began to take a proper foothold in the game. Ger Murray held his nerve at the free throw line on numerous occasions and this, along with super tight defense, ensured LYIT would hold on to win a classic game of basketball on a score line of 90-83.
LYIT would like to thank their loyal fans who chanted and cheered from start to finish in one of the most memorable games the town has witnessed for years.
Scorers: LYIT: M Cannon (18pts), S Cannon (9), C Boyle (16), G Murray (25), P Barrett, S Hickey (18), E Dragunas, C Dorrian (4), M Ismail, S Wogan. Coach: D Bradley
Dungannon Cavaliers: M Kubeckis (11), M Macivas (12), N Kersis (7), A Gedvilas (15), E Siaulytis (25), Z Sadauskys (8), S Bastakys, R Gurskas, N Grabys (5).