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Luxol, Hibernians to contest women’s Knockout final

Hibernians’ Ashleigh van Vliet is challenged by Depiro's Casey Samuels. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

(16-19, 19-9, 7-11, 12-9)

A tris of three-balls moved Starlites to a late first quarter 19-12 lead after that Luxol had the better start from the game’s tip-off.

In fact, free throws from the influential Mexican Gladiana Avila as well as centre Josephine Diaby had the St Andrews’ side forge ahead in the first rotations of the game clock.

However, a brace of Mikela Riolo long rangers and another similar basket netted by Stephanie Demartino, compounded by two Mid-range hoops from US import Amelia Simmons, led to a lead change in favour of the Naxxar side.

Luxol went through a very good patch for a number of minutes in the second quarter. They first brought the game to par and then also managed to regain the lead after they added a 10-0 streak with four buckets shared equally between sisters Anna and Lisa Fenech Pace.

Luxol’s double-digit lead, which increased to a first-half maximum of 35-23, was then slightly reduced by the half-time interval after Starlites heated up on offence with a Michela Zammit Cordina trey.

The third quarter witnessed a Starlites’ comeback as they clawed themselves back into the game and ended the quarter
just a long-range hoop away with Luxol seemingly losing their offensive touch.

Yet three baskets on the run at the start of the final quarter gave Luxol another definite push as they again put pressure on their opponents as the gap between the two sides rose to nine points, 48-39.

Starlites kept believing and did not quit and gradually, once again, came closer to their rivals and a late Zammit Cordina three-ball made it a three-point game, 48-51.

It was all to play for but Luxol, through their main point-getter Avila, again distanced themselves and a late Anna Fenech Pace free throw sealed the Violets’ win and passage to the KO final to be played in April next year.

CAFFE MOAK LUXOL: C. Sollami 2, M. Merceica 2, L. Fenech Pace 10, H. Galea, G. Avila 23, K. Portelli, M. Camilleri, M. Camilleri, S. Fenech Pace, J. Diaby 10, S. Sciberras, M. Marmara, A. Fenech Pace 7
STARLITES FIJO: M. Zammit Cordina 10, M. Riolo 9, A. Saliba, M. Sciberras, M. Bonett, S. Demartino 9, M. Fenech, A. Simmons 18, C. Cilia, K. Mifsud, S. Davies, C. Curmi 2.
Referees: N. Azzopardi, I. Ciurariu.

(17-14, 16-18, 7-14, 13-12)

A second-half run to the tune of a partial 18-2 score was the turning point in this semi-final clash whose outcome was Hibs booking a placed in the final and will face Luxol in four months’ time.

Trailing with a double-digit margin, ARMS Depiro had the clock against them as it was ticking away to the final buzzer.

They did stage a fight to come back into the game but the game clock sounded with the two teams five points away from each other.

The first half ended with the two teams practically balancing themselves out.

Hibs had the better start with hoops from veterans Samantha Brincat and Ashleigh van Vliet as well as a Kristy
Caruana trey.

But Depiro were quick to gain their footing and also led to lead change, at 13-8, with Australian Casey Samuels adding to the initial buckets from Nicole Agius and Claire Ciantar.

The tempo remained likewise even in the second quarter even if both sides had a positive mini-patch.

Hibs, twice, took a marginal one-point lead but a very late Celine Fenech hoop put Depiro 33-32 ahead at the halftime interval.

The game restarted after the break and Depiro, initially, maintained their lead to 38-35.

But here Hibs hit back strongly with a series of hoops that were practically unanswered at the opposite end.

Brincat and Iona Agius were the most precise for the Paolites at this juncture which had them stand at 53-40 with eight minutes to go till the final buzzer.

Depiro did regain their mark and tried hard to claw themselves back and did reduce the deficit.

But a late Brincat three-ball reassured Hibs’ minds that they were to hold on to emerge victorious in this KO tie.

ARMS DEPIRO: N. Agius 11, J. Xerri 3, J. Mallia, L. Duncan 2, C. Ciantar 11, N. Hili, C. Samuels 22, M. Micallef, C. Fenech 4, L. Camilleri, J. Magri.
HIBERNIANS: E. Farrugia, K. Conti, I. Agius 11, A. Legarra, A. Van Vliet 17, S. Brincat 15, J. Abela 3, N. Farrugia, K. Caruana 9, K. Calleja, E. Cassar 3, J. Dabic.
Referees: Z. Dobrosavljevic, N. Azzopardi.

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