Belfast Telegraph

Rockets have perfect lift-off as Meteors fall

By David Kelly

Ulster Rockets produced a super show against Meteors to open their new Women's Premier League basketball season with a win at Methodist College in Belfast.

But there was an agonising defeat for Belfast Star in the men's top grade, also at Methody.

The Rockets had only three players from last season in their squad, but the inclusion of American Kerri Shields was a major boost.

The girl from Philadelphia gelled well with Mairead McNally as they netted 22 and 21 points respectively.

The northern team had to do without the height of Fionnuala Toner, who was ruled out of action with an ankle injury, but the rest made up for that.

Susan Dick played the entire 40 minutes for the first time in a Premier League (formerly SuperLeague) game and hit 10 points as Rockets led by 35 to 29 at half-time.

It is the first time the Belfast-based team managed to record a win over their Dublin rivals and this 63-60 start to the new season is a fabulous boost to coach Breda Dick and her players.

Helena Fairbairn was strong throughout and got through an amount of work with assists to her scoring colleagues.

"I am certainly very pleased with this win. It is a great start to the season as Meteors are a very good side," said coach Dick.

"It gives us confidence to push on from here."

Early foul trouble was costly for Star in their return to the top basketball grade after taking a season out.

Star lost to Bord Gáis Neptune 75-72 but were most unlucky not to snatch a victory.

"Yes, we can look on this match as one that got away," said Star assistant coach Adrian Fulton.

"Early foul trouble was our problem but we still should have won the game," commented Fulton.

The foul count was 28 for Star with Neptune on 14 which home supporters will claim as being somewhat unbalanced.

New American import Frank Otis suffered from the Irish refereeing style and was on four fouls after only 20 minutes and was finally fouled out with a minute to go with just 17 points netted.

Ger Noonan was, as usual, a Neptune star and new boy Rory Downey also shone for the Cork side who were 47-41 down at half-time. Star increased their lead to 10 points early in the last quarter but the experience of the league holders from Cork managed to claw their way back for a narrow three points win.

Star do get a league point from the game because, following the rugby example, a new rule states that a team losing by less than six gets a bonus point.

Men's Premier: Templeogue 79 (P Taylor 23, W Houston 22, D James 22), DCU Saints 84 (J Donnelly 20, E Darling 20, P Lynch 20).

Killester 79 (M Bonaparte 27, I Westbrooks 14, M Westbrooks 13), Dublin Inter 61 (A Statkus 21, M Tamkuauska 15).

Belfast Star 72 (F Otis 16, F Toner 13, P Dick 10), Bord Gáis Neptune 75 (D Townes 24, G Noonan 16, R Downey 13).

Women's Premier: Killester 54 (A Sullivan 18, C Bond 16, M Clarke 10), Brunell 67 (C Menendez 20, A Waters 11).

DCU Mercy 57 (M Hoffman 15, R Brittenham 13), UL Huskies 75 (Clancy 19, Vanderwal 18, McDermott 12).

Ulster Rockets 63 (K Shields 22, M McNally 21, S Dick 10), Meteors 60 (K Ganser 16, K Meany 13).

DCU Mercy 78 (L Peat 18, S Woods 16, A McLaughlin 11), Liffey Celtics 43 (S Smith 16, I Sanchez 12).

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