It was a very busy weekend for the young players from Blaze Basketball Club in Letterkenny with a host of sides taking part in some important games.
North west U12 Girls Final
The U12 Girls faced a tough match against Ballyshannon in the U12 North West Girls Final in Ballyshannon on Saturday evening last. This game proved to be very close and competitive. Blaze girls were focused from tip off to the final whistle. They played well together in the first quarter especially in the offensive court. However, Ballyshannon began to find their feet and were able to chip away at the Letterkenny girls’ lead to make it a 4 point game by the end of the first quarter with a scoreline 7 - 11 in favour of Blaze.
The second quarter was just as intense with both teams playing a very strong defensive game. Rebounds on both ends of the court were strongly battled for and the game picked up in pace as Ballyshannon notched a few scores to level the game at half time, 11 points all.
In the third quarter, Ballyshannon managed to take the lead, 21-17, with strong drives to the basket. Both teams had plenty of chances in the final quarter. Blaze managed to score a lay-up
from some excellent open passes and a hard drive to basket to narrow the scoreline to one basket. The intensity on and off the court was superb with all supporters cheering on their side. Ballyshannon were awarded 2 free throws and scored one from two to extend their lead to a 3 point game.
In the last seconds Ballyshannon were able to keep their lead while Blaze threatened the score line on many occasions. Unable to clinch the lead, the Blaze girls played a highly impressive game and fought hard to the final whistle.
North West u12 Boys League Final
Blaze U12 boys travelled to Ballyshannon in optimistic form having won three matches apiece throughout the season. They opened the first quarter brightly with an 8-4 lead at the first break. The hosts negated that lead, foiling Blaze attacks and counter-attacking in the second quarter. The half time score was 15-8 tothe hosts with all to play for.
In the second half Ballyshannon stepped up a gear and despite the best efforts of the Blaze side, they pulled away to win by 15 points at the final whistle. The Blaze boys will have learned much from this defeat and despite coming second, their effort to the end was admirable.
A season and a group of boys to be proud of and they will have better days ahead.
Super Cup Finals
The Super Cup finals were hosted this year by Donegal Town Basketball Club. These finals see the league winners and the cup winners play off. The day started withBlaze U14 girls playing the host team, Donegal Town. The girls got off to a great start but at the half there was just a basket in it. Both teams, who were evenly matched, played some great ball but the hosts came out winners by just 2 baskets.
Blaze U16 girls were up next, led by their coaches Laura Deeney and Denise Bourne. Their opposition was Ballyshannon BC who had also won the league but most of these girls had been winners in the Schools Cup "B" competition earlier in the year. It was again a game played at great speed with lots of skill on show. In the end the Ballyshannon girls took the title by a margin of just 4 points.
Blaze U14 boys played next against Sligo All Stars. However, this was not the team they had come up against in the league. Blaze were far too strong in ability and skill for their opponents and ran out easy winners
Last up were the Blaze U16 boys against a strong Sligo All Stars team. This was a really good game of basketball with Blaze staying in touch for most of the game with their opposition. Towards the end of the game and to gain every player valuable experience, Coach John Grant made sure all players got a good run out. These games were deemed as vital preparation for the upcoming All Ireland Club Championships for which all four of the Blaze teams have qualified.
Details for the All Irelands are yet to be clarified but we know that the North West are hosting U16 Girls B's, the U14 boys travel to Kerry, the U14 girls go to Antrim outside Belfast with a venue for the U16 boys still to be confirmed.
Meanwhile the Blaze U12 development boys had a really enjoyable days basketball as they took part in the last under 12 blitz on Sunday at home against Mulroy Hoops and Dungloe
Great fun, good sportsmanship behaviour and competitive basketball was displayed by all involved.