Star of the Sea are on top of table

 

STAR of the Sea's brilliant conclusion to 1995 saw them ascend into outright leadership of the Budweiser Superleague, after beating their closest rivals St Vincent's 80-77 in Glasnevin on Sunday.

The Belfast club's eighth league victory was only achieved with a last minute comeback, after they had led the game for lengthy periods.

Star led 43-41 at the interval, but deep inside the final minute, the Dubliners were back in front 77-75. With thirty seconds to go, a superbly timed three-pointer from Javan Dupree restored the lead to Star.

St Vincent's were subsequently turned over twice - once in the course of a Rob Phelps lay-up - before Adrian Fulton secured victory for the Belfast side, with two free throws, inside the last eight seconds.

One of the key elements in Star's victory was the way they dictated the defensive nature of the game while their two top Irish players, Fulton and Gareth McGuire, who each tallied 14 points, outplayed their fellow Irish squad members Karl Donnelly and Stephen McGuirk of St Vincent's.

St Vincent's have now been joined in second place by Tralee, who won a thrilling Kerry derby 105-103 in Killarney against St Pauls, after three exciting periods of overtime.

The teams were level at 80 points apiece at the full-time buzzer. They were tied again at 88-each after the first period and were still deadlocked at 96-each after the second.

With three seconds to go in the third overtime, the score was 103-all when John Teehan made two free throws for Tralee to secure their seventh victory of the season.

Tralee's new rookie Nigel Palmer scored 37 points, which compensated for the loss of their other American Ricardo Leonard, who reached five fouls in ordinary time.

The performance of Irish squad member Allan Conlan was the difference between the teams in the Dublin derby at Clontarf on Saturday. The former St Declan's player, now based in America, was home for Christmas and Killester only registered him on Friday. He scored a vital 18 points in a 95-93 victory over Delta.

Meanwhile, a 28 point contribution from Terry Strickland helped Neptune keep their slim hopes of a title challenge intact on Saturday with a 78-75 home win over North Mon.