St Paul's end Notre Dame's winning run

 

St Paul's Killarney caused the shock of the season when they ended Notre Dame's nine-match winning streak in the league with an extremely tense 85-83 victory over the leaders in yesterday's televised game at the National Arena in Tallaght.

Killarney held their nerve brilliantly in the final minute to come from 83-82 behind with six seconds remaining to secure victory with a three-point play from their `Bosman' signing, Blake Gage.

What preceded that dramatic conclusion was a game full of incident. It began when Notre Dame's American Randall Mounts incurred three fouls in the opening five minutes before being fouled out by picking up another foul and a `technical' with just a minute left in the first half.

Notre Dame's troubles didn't end there. They continually failed to execute plays with anything like the authority which hallmarked their brilliant early season form.

Even so, they showed enough spirit to come back from 47-35 down at half-time to level the game in the last quarter and then take a 74-71 lead. From there on, there was rarely more that a basket or two between the teams.

With 16 seconds left, the home crowd must have felt that their unbeaten record would be preserved as player-coach Anthony Jenkins took them from behind into a one-point lead by nervelessly converting two free-throws.

But one final frantic flourish by Killarney yielded a basket and a free throw from Gage which won the Kerry team a famous victory. Steve Polonowski was Killarney's top scorer on 28 points.

That defeat for Notre Dame means that they now fall back into a tie for the lead with Star of the Sea who defeated Ballina 108-94 in Belfast on Saturday night. The Mayomen really struggled without the absent Liam McHale and Igor Bongevianni.

Notre Dame and Star are now six points clear of third-placed Dungannon who were defeated 85-74 on their home court by St Vincent's who share fourth place with resurgent Killarney.

Killester drop into the lower half of the table after losing 90-82 away to Marian on Saturday.

The match between the two bottom clubs, Neptune and Tralee, was settled by a dramatic last second three-pointer from Tralee's Roscoe Patterson which made the final score 86-83.

In Division One, Sligo pulled away into a a six-point lead at the top as they won 111-96 away to Tolka, while second placed Waterford lost 71-66 at home to Limerick.

In the women's Superleague, Wildcats remain the only unbeaten team in any of the national divisions.