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Luxol hold off Hibs’ late surge to level women’s league final series

Luxol's Sarah Pace (right) battles for the ball with Ylenia Bonett. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Caffe Moak Luxol         52

Hibernians      49

(9-10, 10-13, 19-9, 14-17)

Caffe Moak Luxol survived a late Hibs comeback to tie the finals series at 1-1, thereby surely extending this best-of-five series to at least game four.

Still, as even this series is demonstrating, there can be a lot of parity and even unpredictability between this year’s two women finalists.

There was nothing separating the two finalists in the first quarter where the lead changed hands on three occasions.

Three early hoops from Marcal had Caffe Moak Luxol set off with a very early lead only for the duo Ashleigh van Vliet and Kenyotta Jenkins to share points and have Hibs marginally 10-9 ahead after the first ten minutes.

The Paolites opened on a strong note in the second quarter when they outscored their opponents 11-2 with nine points, including a trey, coming off Van Vliet’s hands.

Faced with a double-digit deficit, 11-21, Luxol sought to stay in the game and two back-to-back three balls from Sarah Pace and Amanda Mercieca, following an early Anna Fenech Pace bucket, put them well back into the picture even if a late Jenkins hoop helped Hibernians to a four-point half-time lead, 23-19.

This margin between the two finalists remained for the first part of the third quarter and then Luxol managed to draw level at 32-32.

At this juncture and until the early stages of the fourth quarter, the Violets had a 8-0 run with their guard Pace potting four free throws and a hoop, thereby having the first major lead in the game at 40-32.

A Samantha Brincat trey for Hibs, following a Josephine Diaby close ranger at the opposite end, had Hibs bring down the margin to 37-42.

But here Luxol made an important break as Anna Fenech Pace had a hoop followed by a long-distance bucket and Marcal added two shots from the charity line.

This meant that Luxol opened a very late double-digit lead, 49-37, and pressure was now totally on Hibs.

The Paolites did increase their intensity but were then hit by a desperate last-second possession corner shot by Pace which found nothing but the net to have Luxol 52-39 ahead.

Here Luxol dried up completely whilst Hibs made a last-dich effort which almost proved fruitful as they scored 10 points on the trot and even had the ball in the game’s last possession but their three point attempt came up short to the relief of the Luxol clan.

Game three is scheduled for this Sunday at 3.45pm.

Luxol: L. Fenech Pace, V. Selvaggi, S. Pace 15, A. Mercieca 3, F. Camilleri, H. Galea, P. Marcal 15, A. Borg, P. Ellul 2, M. Camilleri, J. Diaby 8, A. Fenech Pace 9.

Hibs: E. Farrugia, K. Conti, I. Agius 4, Y. Bonett 6, A. Van Vliet 17, S. Brincat 9, J. Abela 5, K. Jenkins 8, N. Farrugia, K. Caruana, J. Dabic.

Referees: G. Barbara, N. Azzopardi.

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