ENERGYWISE Ireland Neptune defeated Tralee Warriors in a crucial Men’s Super League end-of-season clash at a packed Tralee Sports complex on Saturday.
Plenty of heroes for Neptune but their standout player proved to be Jordan Blount who finished with a 30-point tally.
By virtue of this win Neptune snatch third place in the northern conference as they had a better head-to-head than Emporium Cork Basketball.
The prize for both sides is road trips; Neptune will travel to play Belfast Star and Ballincollig visit the Northern Conference champions Eanna.
The opening exchanges were naturally cagey as the packed attendance were intrigued with the matchups on court.
Scoring was of a rarity such was the excellent defence that was being played at both ends with the sides tied at seven points each midway through the quarter.
In the closing minutes Neptune began looking sharper in the offence court and when Jordan Blount nailed a brace of free throws with 46 seconds remaining the Cork side had extended their lead to six points 21-15.
Credit to the Warriors they battled backed as American Richard Dunham executed consecutive baskets and a late Stephen Bowler free throw saw the minimum between the sides 21-20 entering the second quarter.
The tension was clear to see in the manner both teams approached the second period as the sides were level on five occasions in the opening five minutes.
Suddenly Tralee took a four-point lead when Matija Jokic made two free throws but with Blount always looking dangerous when posting up a neat jumper brought the minimum between the sides.
It was then the turn of Neptune to turn on the style and a Tarkus Ferguson three-pointer was followed by a Blount basket.
The Warriors did reduce the deficit to the minimum 38-37 at the sound of the half time buzzer as the game was still very much on a knife edge.
There was still nothing to choose between the teams in the third quarter and it was fitting that the sides were level at 55 points each entering the crucial final period.
Coming down the stretch both teams went for the jugular, but a late Blount three proved crucial in this intriguing game.
De Ondre Jackson 27, D Jakubaitis 18, M Jakic 9.
J Blount 30, T Ferguson 13, R Downey 11, C Heaphy 10.