There was a great atmosphere at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown, ahead of the Elks first home game of the season. This was in part due to the large group of young ballers who gathered before the tip-off for a session with Victory Scholars, and former US College players, Matt Graves and Jim Mower. Basketball NI have announced an exciting new Academy initiative, headed up by Adrian Fulton, Deirdre Brennan, Paul McCrory and Clare Callaghan Hegarty. Parents and participants from the U13/14 and U15 girls’ select teams met for the first time to hear about the exciting new player development programme and stayed on to support the local men’s National League team.
Team Garvey, St Mary’s, who made the long trip from Co. Kerry brought with them a host of experienced players, including the talented Andrew Fitzgerald. With great strength and footwork, “Fitzy” dominated the paint throughout the entire game, finishing with a game-high 24-points. For the home-side, a stellar performance from Marty McDonald, a product of Blackstone Ballymena, off-the-bench gave the Elks a serious boost of energy, knocking down an array of deep, and contested, three-point shots.
The game was a classic David vs Goliath story (except Goliath could shoot the three-ball).
Check out the highlight reel and see for yourself:
Towards the end of regulation, TG appeared fatigued, missing crucial freethrows down the stretch, and the Elks’ ran away with the 3-point win in OT.
The biggest concern for Coach O’Neil going forward is likely to be the team’s current lack of post-play and committed rebounders. Conor “CJ” Johnson, a small-forward, is having to carry the load in the paint while the Elks wait on the arrival of big-man, Matt Graves, who is sidelined due to 90-day residency rule.
Ulster Elks 93 (39) (M. McDonald 20; C. Johnson 18; G. Celms 18)
Team Garveys St Marys 90 (43) (A. Fitzgerald 24; D. Wall 23; D. Griffin 18)