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Starlites draw first blood against Depiro women’s playoff in semi-final series

Starlites’ Maria Bonett (right) tries to move past Claire Ciantar, of Depiro. Photo: Wally Galea


(15-15, 25-5, 17-17, 15-15)

A superior Starlites FIJO display in the second quarter was the influential factor as they beat ARMS Depiro in this first game in the league semifinal series.

In these ten minutes of effective play, Starlites outscored Arms Depiro 25-5 to open a considerable 40-20 halftime lead.

Incidentally, the other three quarters all ended at par but, save the initial rubber, the Naxxar side were always in command of the proceedings.

The game had a slow offensive start with Maria Bonett notching two free throws after 75 seconds of play.

Australian Casey Samuels (32 points, 12 rebounds, three assists) replied with a mid-range jump shot followed by a trey to move her Mtarfa-based outfit into the lead.

Starlites could not land a hoop and it was only through shots from the charity line, from Stephanie Demartino (24 points, seven rebounds, five steals) and Mikela Riolo (seven assists, seven rebounds), that they kept close to Depiro who had a Samuels and-one play and a close range Leanne Duncan conclusion.

Bonett scored Starlites’ first bucket after almost seven minutes of play as the two sides kept head-to-head and closed the first quarter at an even 15-15.

Starlites set off the second quarter with an 8-0 run and then closed the same quarter with 12 consecutive points as they cruised to a commanding 20-point lead at halftime, 40-20.

Amelia Simmons (21 points, 11 rebounds) netted five hoops in this quarter with her teammates Riolo, Demartino, Christina Curmi, and Mikela Zammit Cordina adding other baskets.

At the other end, Depiro had only one bucket in action as Samuels netted a trey in the third minute. For them, Julia Xerri had a team-high six assists as well as seven rebounds, similar boards as Nicole Agius.

Starlites had a good start also after the change of ends as they extended their lead to 50-24 with further treys from Riolo and Zammit Cordina and more under-the-board play from Simmons.

After a long point drought, Depiro had an 8-0 streak midway in the third quarter with Duncan scoring a threeball followed by more Samuels hoops.

But late Demartino buckets, even from long range, helped her side to return to a 20-point lead, 57-37, with one quarter to go.

The outcome of the game was already decided and once again Starlites had a better start also in the last rubber. With Simmons and Demartino always in the thick of the action, they achieved the largest lead in the game, 72-54, until a late rally from Depiro helped them to marginally diminish the final deficit.

The two sides now meet again this Sunday at 2PM where Depiro need to dig deep to try to force the third deciding game.

Caffe Moak Luxol will be again interested spectators as they are awaiting the winners of this series in the league final series to be played on a best-of-five format.

Starlites: M. Zammit Cordina 9, M. Riolo 7, A. Saliba, M. Sciberras, M. Bonett 4, S. DeMartino 24, M. Fenech 1, A. Simmons 21, C. Cilia, K. Mifsud, S. Davies 2, C. Curmi 4.
Depiro: N. Agius 2, J. Xerri, J. Mallia, L. Duncan 8, C. Ciantar 4, C. Samuels 32, J. Borg 6, M. Micallef, N. Borg, C. Fenech, L. Camilleri, J. Magri.
Referees: B. Vassallo, J. Londono, D. Torok.

Luxol U-19 women’s champions

Luxol 57
Starlites 46
(16-17, 14-11, 8-8, 19-10)

Luxol were crowned 2023 Under 19 women’s champions after a hard-fought final against Starlites.

The match was decided in the last quarter when the Violets managed to open a slender lead which they managed to control until the final game buzzer.

Starlites enjoyed most of the lead in the first three parts of the game, albeit a marginal one, with a four-point advantage twice in the first half.

In a quite dry third quarter, where only 16 points were equally shared by the two teams, Starlites were leading 36-31 in the fifth minute after hoops from Mariah Fenech (40% shooting, eight rebounds, three assists, eight steals), Andrea Saliba, Lexi Demartino (11 rebounds) and Martina Sciberras, all players who had, in one way or another, court time in the women’s senior division.

In the remaining minutes in the quarter, Lisa Fenech Pace (nine rebounds, seven steals) made it a tied game with five consecutive points and then, her sister Sarah (there were four Fenech Pace sisters in the squad with also Anna and Rebekah) put Luxol marginally ahead.

Three minutes into the final rubber, Saliba finally for a hoop for Starlites after almost eight dry minutes.

But Luxol made a bold move to victory when after more Fenech Pace points followed by a Jada Said trey and a Sarah Sciberras mid-range jumper, they opened a 47-40 lead with less than five minutes to go.

Starlites tried hard to recover the deficit and Saliba – the team’s top scorer with 16 points and six rebounds – brought them to four points away, 45-49.

But Luxol made sure of the victory and the Under 19 league crown with late jumpers from Sarah Fenech Pace (double-double with 16 points, 17 rebounds, three assists) and Michela Marmara.

At the end of the game, the Luxol squad was presented with the league trophy by Joseph Muscat, MBA secretary general.

Luxol: G. Carabott, R. Fenech Pace, S. Sciberras 12, L. Fenech Pace 12, M. Marmara 2, J. Said 7, E. Abela, S. Fenech Pace 16, S. Farrugia 6, V. Baldacchino, J. Spiteri, A. Fenech Pace 2.
Starlites: A. Saliba 16, V. Micallef, N. Baldacchino, K. Mifsud 4, P. Riolo, L. Demartino 6, M. Fenech 15, D. Camilleri, M. Sciberras 5, M. Mankoska, Y. Ferrando.
Referees: Z. Doborsavljevic, N. Azzopardi, B. Mrkojevic.

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