Presentation crowned queens of south-east
AN EXCELLENT second-half performance saw Presentation (Wexford) crowned South East basketball champions, by overcoming Presentation (Waterford) on a scoreline of 41 to 25 at the Kingfisher Sports Centre in Waterford.
It is the fourth time in three years that both of these schools have met in basketball finals, and Presentation (Wexford) have had the upper hand on each occasion.
Presentation Wexford's path to the final saw them record victories over Loreto (Wexford), Our Lady of Lourdes (New Ross) and Coláiste Bríde in the group stages of the competition. The semi-final pitted them against a determined St. Anne's of Tipperary town. The Wexford girls battled hard to win the tie 43-41 and book their place in the final. Presentation (Waterford) were also unbeaten in their group and needed to be at their best to overcome Loreto (Wexford) in their semi-final.
The final got off to a sluggish start, with nerves evident on both sides. Presentation (Wexford) opened the scoring through Emma Walsh. Aisling Nolan cleverly drew a foul and scored from the free throw line to see Wexford go 3-0 ahead, before Valerie O'Brien got the Waterford side off the mark with a basket and quickly added a three-pointer to see them edge ahead.
It was nip and tuck throughout the quarter as both Emma Walsh and Stella McKay added two and three points respectively for Wexford. However, Jenna Morris and Marie Robinson replied for Waterford to leave the game tied at 9-9 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter followed the same script, as neither team was establishing any fluency, while both defences were dominant. Stella McKay and Deirdre Kenny scored for Wexford as Valerie O'Brien ensured the Waterford side remained on a par, adding four points.
Eleanor Nolan was working like a Trojan on defence for Wexford as Emma Walsh traded baskets with Dawn O'Sullivan. Valerie O'Brien put Waterford two points clear following some individual brilliance.
Excellent rebounding from Eadaoin Miskella and Aisling Nolan ensured Wexford gained some vital possession while under pressure. Wexford then introduced Lauren Lawlor who duly chipped in with a converted free throw and a great basket on the break, to see the Wexford side forge ahead 19-18 as the buzzer brought the second quarter to a close.
Wexford emerged from the half-time break a renewed force and exerted their authority to outscore their opponents 11-2. Emma Walsh sunk a fine basket before Deirdre Kenny added a point from a converted free throw.
Stella McKay hit her groove again to add two baskets before Waterford converted two free throws and were getting little else from a determined Wexford defence. Deirdre Kenny made an easy lay-up for herself before McKay had the final say of the quarter and added a further two points following an excellent rebound. The game was 30-20 in favour of the Wexford side heading into the final quarter.
The game opened up again in the final quarter as Waterford upped the tempo in an attempt to narrow Wexford's lead. Aoife Conlon converted from the free throw line before Stella McKay and Eadaoin Miskella responded for Wexford.
Valerie O'Brien popped up again with a basket and a converted free throw to restore some hope for Waterford, but that hope was dealt a huge blow as Emma Walsh confidently swished a three-pointer.
The final exchanges were frantic and Valerie O'Brien, who had been Waterford's leading player, added another free throw. Wexford had the final say as Miskella and McKay both scored from play to leave the score at 41-25 as the final buzzer announced that Presentation (Wexford) would be taking home the Senior title for 2011.
Presentation (Wexford): Stella McKay (17) and Deirdre Kenny (5, joint capts.), Jessica Reville, Ciara Grey, Eadaoin Miskella (4), Lauren Lawlor (3), Emma Walsh (9), Aisling Nolan (3), Susan O'Doherty, Eleanor Nolan. Coach: Deirdre Colfer.