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Starlites secure first win as Hibs hold off Depiro

Starlites player Andie Saliba tries to avoid the challenge of Josephine Diaby. Photo: Wally Galea

Starlites Naxxar 52
Caffe Moak Luxol 39

 (8-11, 14-5, 15-13, 15-10)

Starlites Naxxar finally broke their duck and registered their first league win against Caffee Moak Luxol to close off the gap with both Luxol and ARMS Depiro in the league standings.

Luxol moved to an early 11-4 lead after Jenniffer Oramas netted a brace of hoops and a trey whilst guards Sarah Pace and Amanda Mercieca added a basket each.

However, they passed through a complete point drought in the next eight minutes whilst Starlites upped their confidence with a 12-0 run which gave them the first lead in the game.

Mariah Fenech got the initial points late in the first quarter and then Cristina Curmi, Andrea Saliba and Mikela Riolo added the hoops at the start of the second rubber.

Although the Violets finally returned to scoring, the Naxxar side managed to maintain the lead till the half-time interval at 22-16.

Play restarted for the second half and after some positive plays at both ends, treys from Riolo and Saliba were influential in helping Starlites to extend further their lead to a double digit form – 37-26 – with 11 minutes to go for the final buzzer.

Luxol, who had beaten Starlites 57-53 in the first round, tried to recover the lost ground and a brace of Sharon Vella shots brought them 35-41 away.

Yet Starlites maintained their cool in the final stages of the game and had seven free throws from ten until a Maria Bonett hoop fully consolidated their initial league win.

Starlites: A. Saliba 14, M. Riolo 7, K. Mifsud, S. Farrugia Tabone, M. Bonett 8, D. Camilleri, K. Portelli 2, M. Fenech 6, C. Vella, S. Wilke, S. Davies 5, C. Curmi 10.
Luxol: L. Fenech Pace, S. Pace 5, M. Mercieca 6, N. Vella, F. Camilleri, S. Vella 4, A. Borg, P. Ellul 4, J. Diaby 8, S. Bonfiglio, A. Fenech Pace, J. Oramas 12   
Referees: N. Azzopardi, I. Ciurariu, F. Fabok
 
Hibernians 81
ARMS Depiro 46
(18-7, 18-11, 20-9, 25-19)

Hibernians kept on with their winning streak, which now increases to five consecutive league matches, and now are three games ahead on their nearest rivals in the table, given also Starlites victory over Luxol earlier in the day.

A 10-0 run in the mid-part of the first quarter started propelling the Paolites ahead in this game with ARMS Depiro not able to keep a constant rhythm, also handicapped with the absences of their centre players Claire Ciantar and Danika Galea.

Kenyotta Jenkins and Hannah Johnson battled it out under the respective boards and practically neutralised each other in the first part of the game.

Hibs, however, had a sprightly Ylenia Bonett assisted by the experience of Ashleigh van Vliet and Samantha Brincat who both spearheaded their plays.

A Monique Caruana hoop followed by a Leanne Duncan trey momentarily brought down the margin to a single digit. But Hibs quickly replied with a 9-2 run which helped them substantially to go in for the interval with a considerable 36-18 lead.

Depiro did have the better start to the second half as Julia Xerri and Johnson combined for nine early points. But Hibs regained full control of the game when they hit their opponents with a game high 16-0 streak to put the outcome of the game without a doubt.

Play was more balanced in the final quarter as both coaches opted to give more playing time to their benchers.

Hibs, who had beaten Depiro 76-47 earlier in the first round of the league, added further points with Marie Buhagiar netting a poker of hoops whilst Joselle Borg Cardona and young Julia Dabic had a brace of baskets.

At the other end, Depiro had points off Nicole Hili and Jasmine Mallia.

Hibs: M. Buhagiar 10, E. Farrugia, I. Agius 2, Y. Bonett 14, A. Van Vliet 11, S. Brincat 17, J. Abela 3, C. Camilleri, K. Jenkins 16, J. Dabic 4, J. Borg Cardona 4
Depiro: H. Johnson 17, M. Caruana 7, N. Agius 6, J. Xerri 7, J. Mallia 2, L. Duncan 3, No. Agius, N. Hili 4, N. Borg  
Referees: B. Vassallo, Z. Dobrosavljevic, F. Ciurariu

Standings
Hibernians 10, Caffe Moak Luxol, ARMS Depiro 7, Starlites Naxxar 6.

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