DESPITE the Killarney side losing a closely contested game, the national league cup quarter-final clash between Scott’s Lakers Lakers and IT Carlow, played in Cork on Monday, will be remembered more for events that happened off the court in the lead-up to the fixture.
As Division 1B winners, Lakers had earned the right of home advantage against Carlow, who finished in fourth place in Division 1A, and this was fixed for Killarney Sports Centre on Sunday evening at 5.30pm. Carlow withdrew from fulfilling that fixture on Sunday morning, however, claiming that adverse weather conditions made it too difficult to travel. Basketball Ireland accepted the decision, despite the fact that Dublin Lions travelled to Killorglin on the same day and the Carlow senior football team managed to make the journey to Belfast.
Under Basketball Ireland rules, when a league fixture has to be rescheduled, the home team must offer their opponents three alternative dates. With Killarney Sports Centre unavailable on Monday, Scott’s Lakers offered Carlow several other options to play the match in Killarney this week but all were rejected.
Basketball Ireland opted instead to fixed the match for Neptune Stadium Cork on Monday afternoon at 3.00pm. The governing body also stated that if Scott’s Lakers refused to give up home advantage and play in Cork, the match would be awarded to Carlow.
Smarting over the decision, the Killarney side reluctantly agreed to play the match rather than conceding a walkover and the decision was also based on previous experience of the difficult appeals process in Basketball Ireland.
Within a matter of hours, Scott’s Lakers had been stripped of home advantage and the opportunity of playing in front of an estimated crowd of 600 people in the final home game of the season. The new scenario was playing in front of less than 30 people in a near empty Neptune Stadium in a match fixed at short notice.
St Paul’s Basketball Club has described the situation as “farcical, unjustifiable and reprehensible”.
“Scott’s Lakers may have come up short in the game and would accept that on any day but having to deal with frustrating decision making by Basketball Ireland officialdom just makes the situation so disheartening and demoralising,” a spokesperson said.
The game itself started brightly for Scott’s Lakers and they led 15-11 at an early stage and were 27-20 in front at the end of the first quarter.
The Killarney side stayed in front to lead 45-40 at half time but Carlow enjoyed a productive third quarter to take the advantage, 59-62, at the end of the third quarter.
The Lakers trailed by 10 with 6.47 remaining but had a late rally to claw it back to 74-80 with 43 seconds left before narrowing it to just a single basket, 82-84, with 13 seconds left.
Carlow went six points clear again before a huge three-pointer from Antuan Bootle cut it to 85-88 with four seconds on the clock. However it was too late and Carlow held on to win a match that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
In any sporting decider, a team can accept being beaten by the better team on the day and Carlow won the match to advance to the semi-final. But certain factors can go against teams and these are often accepted as part of the game. Interestingly, Carlow had a total of six fouls called against them in the entire 40 minutes compared to 19 fouls called against Lakers.
St Paul’s Basketball Club and Scott’s Lakers will feel that their huge efforts to promote national league basketball deserved better. Killarney Sports Centre hosted a crowd of 950 people for a clash with Killorglin last October which was a record for a national league or superleague game in the history of Killarney basketball.
Scotts Lakers scorers: Antuan Bootle 31, Dailian Mason 22, Dan Griffin 10, Mark Greene 8, Andrew Fitzgerald 6, Philip O’Connor 6, Dylan O’Sullivan 2.
IT Carlow: Jimmy Gordon 32, Kevin Donohoe 19, Alan O Neill 19.
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