Starlites reach MBA Shield final
Caffe Moak Luxol 65
(16-11, 15-9, 18-12, 16-14)
The first minutes of the third consecutive meeting between Caffe Moak Luxol and Hibernians was a balanced affair with Hibs notching the first lead off an Anna Legarra hoop and a Naomi Farrugia trey, but Luxol did not take long to forge ahead after a 10-0 streak with five players each grabbing a bucket to help the Violets open a 14-5 early advantage.
A brace of Kelly Conti hoops did, momentarily, put the Paolites closer to their opponents. But Luxol managed to set off on a strong note in the second quarter and reached a double-digit lead as Mandy Mercieca, Cristina Sollami and Gladys Avila found their way to the basket.
Two Ashleigh van Vliet three balls tried to inspire Hibs to be more consistent at the offensive end.
Yet Luxol continued to have the upper edge and Josephine Diaby’s short range buckets extended Luxol’s lead to 31-20 at the half time mark.
Hibs did produce better play in the first part of the second half, albeit their efforts were still being neutralized at the opposite end until a late third quarter 7-0 run re-established Luxol’s control on the court and the latter were 49-32 ahead with ten minutes to go on the game clock.
The last rubber was a balanced affair with both sides adding to their point tally although the result was never in doubt.
Late in the game Hibs had two long rangers from Kristy Caruana and Elize Farrugia respectively whilst Luxol closed off the encounter with points from young Lisa Fenech Pace who was only two points from personal double figures in this contest.
Luxol: C. Sollami 5, V. Selvaggi, M. Mercieca 10, L. Fenech Pace 8, H. Galea, G. Avila 18, K. Portelli, P. Ellul, M. Camilleri, J. Diaby 24, J. Spiteri, A. Fenech Pace.
Hibs: E. Farrugia 3, K. Conti 4, I. Agius 4, A. Legarra 3; A. Van Vliet 10, J. Abela 2, N. Farrugia 3, K. Caruana 9, K. Calleja 2, J. Gauci 2, J. Dabic 4.
Referees: B. Vassallo, M. Scerri, I. Ciurariu.
Arms Depiro 43
Starlites Fijo 56
(20-12, 14-21, 7-19, 2-4)
A late third quarter double-digit Starlites run was the turning point in this Shield semi-final as the Naxxar side managed to edge very close to the winning 55-point mark and Depiro, who had a very good start to the game, had no time to stage a comeback in this game that ended before normal regulation time.
The Mtarfa side, who presented 28-year old Australian Casey Samuels within their ranks, were the better side off the block as Claire Ciantar and Julia Xerri had early baskets whilst Samuels banged in two treys for a 14-5 lead.
This margin remained for some time and it was, then, in the early stages of the second quarter that Starlites started to close the deficit as Amelia Simmons and Stephanie Demartino found their mark.
A Nicole Agius three ball and further buckets from Xerri did keep Depiro a bit ahead.
But the half time interval had the two sides breathing at each other’s neck as Starlites were now firmly in the game as two Christina Curmi hoops helped them to a minimal deficit, 33-34.
After the change of ends, play was again very balanced for the first part of the third quarter with Samuel’s and Xerri’s
long rangers neutralising the Naxxar points off the Simmons/ Demartino tandem for a 41-41 game.
Here, Starlites registered their game-winning streak as they scored 13 points in a row by the start of the final quarter.
At this point, leading 54-41, they now were just a single point away from winning the game under the Shield criterion of a 55-point mark for the female game.
A few moments later, Demartino sank in a bucket to thus close off the game and place Starlites in the competition final.
Their opponent in the final will be Luxol.
Depiro: N. Agius 6, J. Xerri 15, A. Mallia, J. Mallia, L. Duncan, C. Ciantar 6, N. Hili, C. Samuels 11, J. Magri, J. Borg 3, C. Fenech 2, E. Cassar.
Starlites: M. Zammit Cordina 3, M. Riolo 3, A. Saliba, M. Sciberras, M. Bonett 1, S. DeMartino 25, M. Fenech 2, A. Simmons 15, C. Cilia, K. Mifsud, S. Davies, C. Curmi 8.
Referees: I. Simic, N. Azzopardi, G. Russo.
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