CCC vs. Kilcullen
National Basketball Arena
Irish National School’s Cup Final
Jan. 21, 2014
A superb performance by Whitney Moia was more than enough to crown Castleknock Community College the winners of the U19 B Girls All Ireland Cup as they beat Cross & Passion Kilcullen by 52-25. Moia scored an impressive 22 points en route to her team’s victory as well as ending the game with the highest number of rebounds and blocks which earned her the game’s MVP award. Moia played a major role in all of Castleknock’s victories leading up to the final with her ending the tournament as the team’s top scorer and the highest scorer in three of the four games.
Castleknock captain and point guard Laura Carolan was also in fine form for her team. The Castleknock captain linked brilliantly with forwards Kotryna Cikanaviciute and Lauren O’ Neil as the trio’s passing and movement caused problems for Kilcullen throughout the entire game, the highlight of which being Carolan converting a 3 point opportunity just feet away from the halfway line. Adding to this fine offensive flow was the superb shooting of Leah Mullins who scored 14 points.
The defensive effort of Castleknock continuously stopped Kilcullen’s efforts. Kilcullen had averaged 58 points/game in their run up to the final. This effort was led by Whitney Moia with 22 blocked shots, Lauren O’Neill with 12 rebounds and Leah Mullins who was assigned to guard Kilcullen’s high scoring guard Ciara Wheeler. Wheeler, who had averaged 25 points/game in her previous cup matches, was held to 8 points.
A poor first half performance by Kilcullen cost them dearly as they trailed 28-10 at the interval. Their long ball game created a number of openings for them to close the deficit but was ultimately cut down by Castleknock, who responded with sharp counter attacking play that made their opponents rethink their strategy as the third quarter got underway.
A timeout in the closing minutes of the first half by Kilcullen Coach Eoin Wheeler briefly turned the play in favour of his team as they responded by scoring two unanswered baskets before the interval.
Tensions began to mount between the two teams at the start of the third quarter as Castleknock began to quickly break away from their opponents, utilising a fluid passing game that Kilcullen were slow to respond to. ending the third quarter with a 24 point.
The fourth and final quarter was a scrappy affair which saw Kilcullen sacrifice their defensive play in an attempt to overload their opponents basket and attempt a miraculous comeback. Despite it being their highest scoring period of the game, it was not enough for Kilcullen as their focus on attack left them vunerable on the counter attack which Castleknock made the most of, scoring 12 points in the final quarter to seal their victory.
Kilcullen looked dangerous when in around the basket with Ciara and Emma Wheeler converting a number of chances and ending the game as Kilcullen’s top joint scorers with 8 points each. However in the end it was not enough as Castleknock walked away the clear winners.
Coach Ron Antoniotti commented after the game that “this victory was a total team effort. Each of our players came through with their finest efforts of the year on the biggest stage. Our team has worked for 3 years to get to this opportunity and we fulfilled our dream.”
Antoniotti credited 1st and 2nd year coach Fiona Clancy on the hard work she put in to develop the team in their formative basketball years. He added, “The entire school is chuffed with this win. It’s a great day for CCC”.