Wildcats edge Meteors in Superleague thriller

Waterford Wildcats 60
Trinity Meteors 59

There’s an old saying “the bigger they come the harder they fall“.

Such was the case in the Mercy Sports Hall on Saturday night last when Trinity Meteors were raging hot favourites to see off the challenge of hosts Waterford Wildcats in Basketball Ireland’s Superleague.

The Dubliners had three of the Irish senior women’s team (Claire Melia, Dayna Finn and Sarah Kenny) in their line-up plus a number of junior internationals. Meteors were perched in second place in the league table while Wildcats were hanging on to fourth spot as the league gets close to the play off finals.

Besides the obvious quality Irish players, Meteors had a 6’4” centre in American Clena Taborn who would prove to be difficult for the smaller and lighter Wildcats to deal with inside as she started with the opening scores of the game and a total of 11 points in six minutes.

But gradually some clever double teaming by Wildcats in defence got to grips with the situation and a number of breakaway lay ups by American Karli Seay and many fine scores from Jazz Walker, Sarah Hickey and team captain Helena Rohan had the game level at 22 points apiece at the end of the first quarter.

Wildcats upped the tempo of the game in the second quarter and played magnificent defence which was tremendous to watch and they had the game favourites struggling to match their intensity.  Again it was Hickey, Walker and Seay notching up the scores for Wildcats who led 38-29 at the half way stage.

Indeed their advantage might have been more but for the 10 points Ireland’s top player Claire Melia scored in the quarter.

Leading by 13 points, Wildcats went to the break knowing there would be a big response from Meteors in the second half.

As expected, Meteors restarted with all guns blazing and hit a number of quality three pointers from Kenny while Melia added six points from close range to leave just two points between the teams with just over three minutes to the end of the third quarter.

Wildcats introduced two of the games’ most senior but young at heart players Lisa (Palmer) Connolly and Miriam Liston to help quell Meteors dominance and what an impact both players made. Liston linked up with Connolly who hit three unanswered baskets plus two on the free throw line to put the home side back in a commanding lead 46-36 with the final quarter to play.

Back came Meteors with more blistering three pointers from Melia and Kenny cutting the deficit to four points before the youngest player on the court, Wildcats Caitlin Gloeckner swished a welcome and crucial three pointer to leave Wildcats leading 55-50 with under four minutes remaining.

At this point one could hardly hear themselves think as the home supporters were loud in their encouragement for Wildcats to hang on.

Exceptional defence from Kate Hickey intercepted two certain scores as Meteors threw all they had at Wildcats and their efforts seemed to have paid off as Dayna Finn laid up for two and moments later she hit a three pointer to put the Dubliners up by two well inside the final minute.

An outside 3 pointer from Kate Hickey gave the Wildcats a one-point lead in the dying minutes and they held on leaving Wildcats victorious by the slimmest margin, 60-59.

This was Saturday night entertainment at its best and the home supporters showed their appreciation as they stood for a long spell applauding their team who are without doubt the pride of the South East.

Just three games remain for Wildcats in the regular season and they are all tough asks.

This Sunday they are away in Cork where Brunell are the hosts.  The following Saturday it’s back home for the visit of Liffey Celtics before a return to Cork the following week to face high flying Glanmire who top the table with just one loss this season.

Wildcats would like to thank Joe Byrne of Mc Donalds City Square and Cork Road for his generous sponsorship of last Saturday exciting home game v Meteors.