BLACKSTONE travelled to the University of Ulster at Jordanstown to play the Elks last week and came away with another defeat -by 68 points to 58 - in which the Ballymena side were only in contention in the first quarter.
The woes of the Blackstone began to manifest themselves with the loss of Peter McNicholl to the county Gaelic football panel and then to compound this Adam Murray has not been with the club from before Christmas through injury. These two starting five players at the club are difficult to replace for the club who have been leaking personnel for some time.
Elks were quick to open a 6 point gap in the game with points from guard forward Albertio Pacheio he took advantage of a very open baseline to score 4 and then hit from the top of the key with a jump shot.
Blackstone were solid in defence for long periods in the quarter and found the lead for a brief spell as Michael Murray came off a screen to shoot two from the top of the key and then it was Martin McDonald for three 3 pointers on the trot to put the Blackstone ahead 9–11.
This was not to last as the arrival on court of Ballymena ‘old boy’ Connor O’Dornan gave the lead back to the Elks as he shot one on the move and sunk a three from the perimeter ti end the quarter with his team ahead 23–20.
The second quarter saw the Blackstone lose their offensive rhythm and yet their defence was solid keeping the Elks at a distance and protecting their basket with some solid defensive rebounds.
In a phase when they could have capitalised they got into a series of forced shots and unforgivable misses.
Elks put full court pressure on McDonald and the dynamic of the offence changed for a short spell, just enough to give the home team a lead.
McDonald got free a last and was the only reprieve for the visitors, driving for 6 points and an assist to Michael Murray for two more again from the high post position.
In the second half the Blackstone trailed by 8 points 36–28 and could lament a dismal low scoring second quarter.
They looked to be slowing in their defensive game and the Elks exploited this for a 20 point. Much of the damage was done on transition as the Blackstone failed to cover a series of breaks instigated by O’Dornan. He was making it work for a lot of the Jordanstown bench as the coach ran out his squad.
The third quarter was to be another low scoring one for the visitors with scores from McDonald and Hillis from short range on the drive.
Hillis found the baseline open to scoop and set in but pulled up with injury and weakened the Blackstone on the boards as he sat for much of the remainder of the game.
In the fourth quarter the Blackstone trailed by 56–40 and went to a full court press to regain some pride.
Elks were at last uncomfortable in their game and turned the ball to give Hayes and McCormick scores. McDonald shot his 6th three pointer of the game and the gap was at 9 points.
Again the Blackstone closed the gap to 5 points as the Elks missed on two offensive plays. Murray went to the basket to score as the big man found his touck taking 7 points on the trot. Again McDonald’s penetration allowed him to create openings, he pull up to elevate and shoot over the defence for a score.
Elks went to a time out and this stabilised their game as the came back for the remaining 5 minutes and went basket for basket before a vintage lay up from Gary ONeill and a killer three pointer from who else but Connor ODornan.
This Sunday the Blackstone are at home to Tyrone Towers, tip off at 7.15 in St Patrick’s.