The Bower basketballers travelled to Clonaslee in Co. Laois for the second game of the 2021 season.
– U19s: The Bower had a tough task ahead of them in this fixture, missing Irish international Georgia Munnelly through injury. Clonaslee showed their intent early, fouling Nini Collins as she went to the basket. Nini made one of the two shots awarded. Clonaslee got into their practiced rhythm early on and put 13 pts on the board. The Bower could only manage 5.
Ciara Fallon got the Bower moving early in the 2nd quarter, rebounding a miss by Clonaslee and passing it out to Katie Boyle who completed the fast break with a score. Bower Coach Des Reilly urged his players to be patient and seek the good opportunities and the scores would follow. This proved to be the case as Sarah McNamara stripped three different players of the ball & worked the ball around to find good shot opportunities. Some good passing and shooting from Nini Collins and Jillian Begley kept the scoreboard moving in the right direction. Half-time score: OLB 13 – Clonaslee 16
Clonaslee had all five of their starters on the floor for the 3rd quarter and it was one way traffic for most of the period. The home team outscoring the visitors by 9 points. When looking up at the scoreboard you could by forgiven for thinking that the game was all but over however no one told the Bower girls this. The visitors staged a terrific fight back outscoring Clonaslee 12 pts to 8. The powerful Siva Malassou drove straight through the defence to make a great lay-up. Seconds later she almost did it again but missed the shot. The ever alert Jillian Begley scooped up the rebound and put it in the basket. Clonaslee had the lion’s share of the height on the floor but Nini Collins, Ciara Fallon and 15 year old Martha McSharry all proved they could hold their own competing for high ball under the basket. With the game drawing to a close, Siva Malassou pulled up 24 feet from the basket and hit a spectacular 3 pointer for the Bower, much to the delight of all on the Bower bench. Flashes of skill and great determination almost got the Bower back on level terms but the clock had the final say as the buzzer sounded the scores read Clonaslee College 35- OLB 28. U19 Squad: Jillian Begley, Katie Boyle, Maria McLynn, Ciara Fallon, Nini Collins, Sarah McNamara, Nicole Kelly, Amy McGovern, Patricia Durante, Siva Malassou, Martha McSharry (U/16), Jessica Frawley (U/16)

– U16s: The U16s game got off to a blistering start with Maija Dickie hitting the net in the first 15 seconds. The Bower made more of their opportunities than Clonaslee, with scores coming from Maija Dickie, Mèabh O’Higgins and Jessica Frawley. Great early defence from Martha McSharry, Anna Mai Bouker and Maija Dickie kept Clonaslee to 4 points. 1st quarter score: OLB 8 – Clonaslee College 4.
The 2nd quarter was more free-flowing and this suited Clonaslee. They produced some good scoring opportunities, however the equally good Bower defence stopped them four times in a row. Clonaslee got the better of the next few minutes and found their way back into the game. Bower scores in the quarter came from Jessica Frawley, Maija Dickie and Dorothy Obikoya. Half-time score: OLB 17 – Clonaslee 17.
The 3rd quarter was very intense with the Bower switching to full court pressure defence and Clonaslee trusting their systematic zone defence to keep the Bower away from the basket.
Some ill-discipline from Clonaslee saw Jessica Frawley on the free throw line several times and she came away with 5 out of a possible 6 pts. Mary-Jo Kavanagh got the ball in the corner of the court and hit Martha McSharry with a lovely weighted pass to put her in for a well-finished score. The game was still very much in the balance, the Bower shading it 31-27.
Both teams spared nothing in the last eight minutes to try and claim the win. A little too frenetic in parts with both teams losing players to foul trouble. Both teams made errors but the Bower, despite losing Mèabh O’Higgins to foul trouble, hung in there and kept a very slender lead. Anna- Mai Bouker stripped a Clonaslee player of the ball and had it in the basket before they could react.
Some over enthusiastic defence saw Clonaslee on the foul line scoring one of the two free throws awarded and this brought them to within 2 pts of the Bower. A full minute and forty seconds went by without either team scoring and so with the Bower in front by 2 pts, the clock ticked down to two seconds remaining. Everyone held their breath as a Clonaslee player, 25 feet from the basket put up a real hit and hope shot….. and, sadly for the Bower it found the net. Full-time score: Clonaslee 41 – OLB 41. U16 Squad: Mèabh O’Higgins, Anna Mai Bouker, Jessica Frawley, Maija Dickie, Martha McSharry, Niamh Hegarty, Therese Farrell, Jessica Mcsharry, Jamila Bashiru, Dorothy Obikoya, Mary-Jo Kavanagh & Ella Brady.
Game Statistics & photographs: Lydia Mulvihill & Georgia Munnelly.