Lakers blown off course in bizarre final quarter

Emilian Grudov who top scored for Lakers with a 31 points haul

Scott’s Lakers St Paul’s 104 Limerick Celtics 111
Report: Enda Walshe

UP to the start of the fourth quarter, this was a game that Killarney’s Scott’s Lakers looked to have well within their control. They led 86-79 coming into the final act, having seen and raised anything that Celtic could throw at them in St Munchin’s College Gym in Limerick.

This was due to superb offence from Emilian Grudov, new Portuguese signing Rui Saravia and Ben Miller, combined with solid defence by the likes of Paul Clarke and Mark O’Shea.

What happened in the next four minutes could only be described as a blitz led by the explosive Andre Wolford – who finished on 51 points – and the city slickers bombed down five three-pointers and went on an 18-0 run to completely change the flow of the game and take a 97-88 lead. Although rocked by their scoreless run, Lakers regained their composure to some extent and closed the gap again to two points, 106-104, with a minute on the clock. But Limerick Celtics again put their foot on the gas to close out 111-104 winners.

Coach Jarlath Lee: Learning process

Killarney coach Jarlath Lee was equally happy and frustrated with a lot of aspects of the game.

“It was a game we should have won. All the things we did to put ourselves in a great position we neglected in the fourth quarter and a lack of discipline started to creep in,” he said.

“We were more than capable of getting over the line and that’s what’s frustrating me most. You can say it’s a learning process but, sometimes, you’ve got to take the spoils when they are there.

“We move onto Fr Mathews on Saturday and we’ll be aiming to win that one to put us back in the mix,” Lee added.

Rui Saravia, signed just last week, displayed some real promise and once he becomes more familiar with his teammates, he can only get better. Emilian Grudov showed some slickness inside while Ben Miller ran the floor well and put in a mammoth third quarter performance.

Paul Clarke showed real strength and steel while Dainus Varanauskas and Lorcan Keane dove-tailed well with the starting five but both players ran into foul trouble.

The starting five included youngsters Jamie O’Sullivan, who was outstanding throughout and kept the scoreboard ticking over, and Senan O’Leary whose third quarter basket after some staunch Paul Clarke defence was one for the highlight reel.

Young Jamie O’Sullivan hit 18 points for Lakers

It was all looking so rosy for the Lakers as they led 12-3 early in the game and 34-18 at the quarter stage. Baskets from Jamie O’Sullivan, Saravia and Grudov kept that lead at a healthy 11 at half time, 62-51.

The third quarter saw the lead stretch to 16 at one stage, 69-53, with Miller conducting the orchestra but, perhaps, the seeds of the fourth quarter were sown in the closing stages of this period as Limerick finished strong to reduce the deficit to 86-79.

That early fourth quarter onslaught saw Celtics power past Scott’s Lakers to devastating effect and, try though they might – and they sure did try – Lakers could not get the momentum back in their favour.

All in all, it was a very encouraging performance by this young team and they will win games and not play as well as they did, in patches, in this encounter. Leading the scorers were Emilian Grudov (31), Ben Miller (30), Jamie O’Sullivan (18) and Rui Saravia (12).

Next up for Lakers is that trip to the Fr Mathews Arena next Saturday night (7.30pm) to play the home club who had a weekend off in round one.

In the National Cup, meanwhile, the Lakers drew the Portlaoise Panthers with the game to be played the October bank holiday weekend. This is a home tie so it’s a great opportunity to come out and support this young team. Fixture details will be confirmed indue course.