The local derby semi-final clash between crosstown rivals Tralee CBS and Mercy Mounthawk exceeded all the pre-game hype at a packed Tralee Sports Complex this afternoon, with Mounthawk winning an overtime thriller to qualify for the National Cup Final.
Tralee CBS led most of the way but tired bodies took wrong options at the offensive end and a five-point overtime lead was let slip, and a Mercy Mounthawk side led by Irish international Darragh Kennelly finished off this thriller with a 9-0 run.
Another international Rap Buivydas was the best player on view but despite a game-high 26 points, he could not get Tralee CBS over the line.
Three early buckets from Buivydas had Tralee CBS in front but Darragh Kennelly was draining some nice baskets in the paint.
The Green led 16-12 at the end of the opening half and started the second quarter well with a big three from Gary Clifford and another bucket from Rap after a strong drive through the lane.
Mounthawk regrouped thanks to good defence by Kennelly and Leroy Odiahi and a three-pointer from Stephen Bowler put them 25-23 up. A brace from Rap and two threes from Guardiano and Luke Chester saw CBS lead by six but a three on the buzzer from Philip Corkery kept Mounthawk in touch – 35-32 at half-time.
The third quarter was a ding-dong affair. Buivydas drained 10 points but Mounthawk hung in there – 49-47 at the end of the third.
In a tense finale, Darragh Broderick gave The Green a two-point lead but from the free throw line but one each from Kennelly and Bowler forced overtime, 57-57.
Tralee CBS grabbed an early five-point lead through Buivydas and a three from Broderick but a Odiahi bucket and Corkery three tied it.
With Buivydas and Guardiano cramping, Raul Ventzel scored four from four from the free throw line to seal a thriller.
Mercy Mounthawk: D Kennelly 21, S Bowler 12, R Ventzel and L Odiahi 11 each
Tralee CBS: R Buivydas 26, L Guardiano and D Broderick 11 each