ENERGWISE Ireland Neptune exited the Men’s Super League following a quarter-final defeat to Belfast Star at De La Salle College on Saturday.
In a game equivalent to chess the northerners found a way to win coming down the stretch much to the disappointment of the Neptune faithful.
Credit to Neptune they played with high energy in the opening exchanges that shocked Star into submission. Three consecutive three-pointers from Roy Downey (2) and Jordan Blount had the Leesiders buzzing as Star looked to be on the ropes.
Neptune were also playing stringent defence and with a minute remaining in the quarter they still commanded a 17-7 lead.
Star were struggling to break down Neptune’s defence and it was no surprise they trailed 19-12 entering the second quarter.
On the restart, Neptune continued to play good defence and midway through the quarter they still commanded a 10-point lead following a stunning Cian Heaphy three.
Incredibly with three minutes remaining to the interval Neptune’s lead increased to 13 points but suddenly Star found another gear.
In the closing minutes to the interval, Star showed greater resilience and a late brace of free throws from Conor Quinn reduced the lead to the minimum at the break 39-38.
On the restart, the scoring averages of both sides went into meltdown but midway through the quarter, the Belfast side had edged into a five-point lead.
In a game where both teams had to work hard for baskets, Neptune’s American Tarkus Ferguson produced a stunning three-pointer that brought the minimum between the teams with three minutes remaining in this period.
The Quinn twin brothers Conor and Aidan were posing Neptune problems with their outside shooting but Ferguson was having a solid game for Neptune and he tied the game in the final possession: 52-52.
Neptune came out of the blocks in style and with Cian Heaphy and Downey adding baskets they surged into a six-point lead.
Coming down the stretch Neptune couldn’t buy a basket and with Conor Quinn giving an MVP performance with some incredible shooting the Cork side couldn’t find the key baskets.
Little doubt it ended a disastrous season for the Cork side given they invested heavily in a bid to end their famine for silverware.
C Quinn 24, M Richardson 16, C Briggs 16.
R Downey 16, T Ferguson 14, J Blount 11, C Heaphy 10.