The victorious Letterkenny IT team
LETTERKENNY IT recorded a memorable victory in their first ever Men’s Division 2 NBCC (National Basketball College Committee) final at the Oblate Hall in Dublin today, as they ran out 95-82 winners over Dundalk IT in overtime.
Letterkenny IT . . . . . 5
Dundalk IT . . . . . 82
Stephen Casiello (or T-John as he’s more affectionately known) was the spark that ignited the LYIT win, as he – along with Jack Mackey, Conor Reid and Peter Lynch – drove the side forward and showed leadership at crucial moments to see their side through. Casiello put in a man of the match performance as he drove relentlessly at the Dundalk defence, netting vital scores to keep his side in touch, and covering every single board of the court.
Indeed, it wasn’t all plain sailing for LYIT, as they were behind for most of the game, trailing Dundalk IT by two and sometimes four points on occasions, but never letting them get out of sight. Niall Hegarty was the danger man for Dundalk and when he was fouled out of the game in the fourth quarter, and suddenly, momentum swung in favour of LYIT. Leadership was needed and it came in the form of Mackey, Casiello and a strong display from Ray Balogun to close the gap, and when the final buzzer sounded, it was 80-80 and the game was headed for overtime.
Up stepped Jack Mackey in overtime, nailing a superb drive lay-up and a long range three-pointer early on and suddenly – for perhaps the first time in the game – there was breathing space on the scoreboard. Casiello was on hand to hit some vital free throws as the clock ticked down on a performance that will be remembered by Donegal basketball fans for a long time, as it all ended 95-82 in favour of Dundalk.
Speaking after the game, Assistant Head Coach, Niall McDermott said: “Today is a fantastic day for LYIT basketball team and the college as a whole. We’ve never reached a Division 2 final so to get here and win it in the one year is a massive achievement. Thanks to the College for their great support in their promoting the basketball programme this year and to this great group of lads for their hard work all year. We’re really looking forward to the challenge of playing Division One basketball next year.”
LETTERKENNY IT: Jack Mackey, James Carlin, Daniel Akinso, Peter Lynch, Greg Murphy, Liam Dorrian, Ray Balougun, Stephen Casiello, Aidan McCahill, Conor Reid, Mar O’Doherty, Jack Deery.
DUNDALK IT: Emmet Savage, Justin Rosagaran, Nerijus Saltoinis, Sami Sanni, Lock Wee, Eimantas Kumpys, Tun Le Ang, Adams Omorede, Niall Hegarty, Ronybin Xu, Kestas Jonusas, Gytis Norutis.
MVP: Stephen Casiello (LYIT)