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Starlites, Luxol win big to keep up battle for top spot in Women’s league

Starlites guard Mikela Riolo (right) looks for an option against Hibernians on Saturday. photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Starlites powered past Hibernians to stay top of the league on Saturday as the Paolites look all but condemned to a place outside the playoffs this season.

Meanwhile, challengers Caffe Moak Luxol also went home with a big win against Fusion Quest in the day’s later game to go level on points with Depiro who were out of action this past weekend.



(11-20, 8-21, 7-21, 15-22)

It was a dominant showing from Starlites’ Paige Cannon and Mikela Riolo who both finished with a double-double. In fact, Cannon led the game’s scoring with 30 points, grabbing 16 boards in the process. Riolo followed with 17 points and 18 rebounds. Both players finished with 50% three-point shooting after having made two three-balls each, however, it was the usual Steffi De Martino who led the long-distance scores with four on the day in a 14-point finish.

At the other end, Marie Buhagiar was Hibernians’ most offensive player on the day, leading with 12 points while Iona Agius followed with 11 in a below-average shooting day for the Paolites.

Starlites’ Cannon opened the score with a close-range layup before hitting a three-pointer ahead of Julija Dabic’s first basket for Hibernians.

The game took on a balanced rhythm but when Starlites found their momentum, they pushed their lead up to double digits with 24 seconds to go in the first quarter after a Riolo triple. Hibs’ Buhagiar hit a last-gasp mid-range effort to counter but it was a nine-point Starlites lead at the first buzzer.

The second quarter took a slow start, but a De Martino three-pointer reopened the game’s scoring two minutes into play. Riolo was again on target with a fast break before Iona Agius responded at the other end to make it a 12-point game.

Starlites centre Paige Cannon (centre) protects the ball from Hibernians’ Fanni Fabok. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The Paolites’ link-up play was flowing but in contrast, their final touch became an issue and Sandro Farrugia’s clan struggled to make their shots to catch up with a more consistent Starlites five that gradually increased their lead to 22 after another De Martino three-ball with 1.40 to go until halftime. Further pressure from the league leaders resulted in a 41-17 halftime score.

After the break, Starlites’ Christina Curmi drove through the pain for the first points of the second half. On Hibs’ turn to attack, Fatih Dedelioglu’s side proved solid in their defence in the paint, only allowing their opponents to restart their scoring with a Buhagiar freethrow. Meanwhile, Starlites’ advantage continued to grow with the side up by 30 points midway through the third quarter.

Starlites’ dominance caused further troubles for the Paolites in the final quarter when from an and-one play by Riolo, the gap grew to 40 points. For all their efforts to try and bring the game to closer margins, Hibs could not stop their opponents and Starlites took the big win and full points from the game at the final buzzer.

HIBERNIANS M. Buhagiar 12, E. Farrugia, F. Fabok, I. Agius 11, J. Abela 2, B. Agius, K. Calleja 6, J. Gauci, A. Mallia 3, J. Dabic 7.

STARLITES JSD M. Zammit Cordina 2, M. Riolo 17, E. Degiorgio, M. Bonett, S. De Martino 14, P. Cannon 30, P. Riolo 4, M. Fenech 2, C. Cilia 12, C. Curmi 3.

Referees N. Azzopardi, N. Da Silva.



(8-30, 7-19, 6-23, 13-20)

Luxol’s Vanya Baldacchino made up for a scoreless outing against Depiro in the team’s previous game to lead the game on Saturday with 25 points and 12 rebounds in half an hour of play. Anna Fenech Pace was also in double digits for Luxol with 12 points on 60% shooting. As for Fusion, Nicole Vella continued her positive run with 12 points while both Nicole Montalvo and Camilla Londono finished the game with double-digit rebounds despite the heavy defeat.

It was a first quarter to forget for Fusion as Luxol put up no less than 30 points to just eight for the league minnows. In place of Josephine Diaby and Sarah Fenech Pace, who were both out of Saturday’s fixture, Mandi Mercieca started off the game’s scoring with full points from an and-one play. Tayler Bennett hit next before Fusion’s Vella hit from deep to open her team’s account.

On defence, Fusion were slow to recover and Luxol exploited this with numerous fastbreaks to go 10 points ahead halfway through the first quarter. Londono hit another three-ball for what was to be Fusion’s final score of the rubber before the floodgates would be opened and Luxol finished 22 points ahead at the first buzzer.

Luxol’s Sarah Sciberras put up the first points of the second quarter a minute and a half into proceedings. Vella provided Fusion’s answer with one of two freethrows but it was once more a Luxol onslaught until halftime for a 49-15 advantage as both teams retired to their benches.

After the change of ends, Baldacchino’s show began with the first basket of the third quarter. Fusion responded through a Nicole Caruana three-pointer. That, a Montalvo freethrow, and a pair from Julia Schembri were the only scores allowed by the Luxol defence, who put up another 23 points by the end of the third.

The final rubber was a mere formality between the two but this made for more interesting watching as Fusion put up their best scoring, their only double-digit quarter of the game. Nevertheless, Luxol formed their greatest lead of the game – 59 points – ahead of the final five minutes of the game.

With Santino Coppa’s squad heavily rotated by the start of the fourth quarter, Hayley Galea drove through contact to score first. Vella hit one of two from the line to temporarily stop Luxol’s rush but the Violets got back to maintaining their big lead until the end.

FUSION QUEST C. Londono 5, J. Schembri 2, N. Caruana 5, N. Halbie 4, M. Opauszki, N. Vella 12, N. Montalvo 6.

CAFFE MOAK LUXOL T. Bennett 7, M. Mercieca 7, L. Fenech Pace 6, H. Galea 9, E. Abela 10, M. Camilleri, J. Said 5, V. Baldacchino 25, S. Sciberras 8, M. Marmara 3, A. Fenech Pace 12.

Referees L. Massouf, G. Russo.              


Starlites JSD 26; Depiro*, Caffe Moak Luxol 23; Hibernians 16; Fusion Quest 12.

*Depiro did not feature last weekend.

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