With two game days to go for the end of the regular season, Hibs and Starlites GiG maintained the top positions with further wins over ARMS Depiro and Luxol respectively.
The order of the three play-off spots is still undecided and enthusiasts are surely eyeing the final regular season game day scheduled for March 29 when there are direct encounters at either end of the table.
Hibs and Starlites will battle for the top place and a direct passage to the league final series whilst Depiro and Luxol will cross swords to finally determine the third and final play-off spot.
ARMS DEPIRO 53
(10-28, 11-11, 19-22, 13-31)
A strong start paved the way for a comfortable Hibs win against ARMS Depiro in the first game of the fourth and final round of the regular season.
Buoyed by a hefty lead at half time, the Paolites never looked in danger during the second half and they even extended their winning margin further with another strong showing in the final quarter.
After a dry first two minutes with just a single respective hoop at either side of the court, Hibs set off on an 8-0 run with Amelia Simmons notching a bucket followed by an and-one play.
Hannah Johnson, assisted by her guard colleague Nicole Agius, offered a momentary reply for ARMS Depiro but Hibs closed off the first quarter with a 14-2 run as Ashleigh van Vliet and Samantha Brincat added to further Simmons’ buckets for a 28-10 first-quarter lead.
The second quarter was balanced, although the Paolites, who registered their ninth league win and stayed atop of the standings, had their early lead as a comfortable buffer.
When the second half got under way, Depiro had five straight points through Johnson and Julia Xerri but any indication of a comeback was thwarted off when Hibs hit them back with a seven-point streak to re-establish their lead.
A trio of Jasmine Abela treys, early in the final quarter, continued to distance the two teams as the gap also widened further late in the game when Hibs continued pounding the opponents’ boards, with more offensive rebounds and better precision in shooting, closing with a 14-4 run.
DEPIRO: No. Agius, N. Borg 6, N. Agius 10, F. Mifsud, J. Borg 4, D. Said Hollier, M. Scicluna, N. Ebejer, J. Xerri 8, N. Hili 2, H. Johnson 22, E. Cassar 1.
HIBERNIANS: Y. Bonett 12, A. Van Vliet 13, S. Brincat 5, L. Duncan 1, J. Abela 11, C. Camilleri 2, B. Agius 3, N. Farrugia 4, K. Caruana 13, M. Buhagiar, A. Simmons 28.
Referees: Z. Dobrosavljevic, V. Nikolic, S. Tafilica.
STARLITES GIG 69
(15-23, 11-15, 18-14, 11-17)
Two short runs were influential in Starlites GiG’s win over Luxol as the former kept tailing Hibs in the standings while the latter, despite their commendable efforts, still eye their final day encounter against Depiro at the end of the month for a possible place in the play-offs.
The start of the game was very balanced as both sides managed to neutralise each other until the eighth minute when Starlites notched their first positive streak, seven straight points off Stephanie Demartino and Maria Bonett.
When the second quarter got under way, Michela Zammit Cordina contributed to an initial 7-2 run and the Naxxar side were now 30-17 in the lead.
Luxol did find again their shooting touch as Kayleigh Portelli and Cristina Sollami netted some hoops but Starlites maintained their lead at the interval, 38-26, after some late Christina Curmi buckets.
Sollami and Pace opened the second half for a Luxol 7-0 run to bring down their deficit to just five points, 33-38, but here, led by Patricia Arguello, Starlites replied strongly and quickly re-established a double-digit lead.
Showing certain resilience, Luxol fought back for a number of minutes but could not get very close to their opponents for a 49-57 score with five minutes to go.
Starlites made sure of their win with a 10-0 run and from then on time was in their favour to attain their eighth win.
LUXOL: S. Pace 16, M. Caruana 1, C. Sollami 15, No. Vella, S. Vella 6, K. Portelli 6, A. Borg, P. Ellul, J. Schembri, Z. Neilande 11.
STARLITES: M. Zammit Cordina 11, M. Riolo 4, A. Micallef 2, S. Farrugia, M. Bonett 11, S. DeMartino 16, C. Curmi 11, P. Arguello 14, M. Cutajar, S. Davies, A. Lupo.
Referees: L. Camilleri, I. Simic, J. Agustin.
Hibernians (9-1) 19; Starlites GiG (8-2) 18; ARMS Depiro (2-8) 12; Luxol (1-9) 11.