BLACKSTONE suffered a heavy 81-51 defeat on the road on Saturday when they travelled to Kilkeel Knights in the Premier League.
Formidable opposition and a late arrival did nothing for the Ballymena team’s shooting as they struggled to a meagre 10 points in the opening quarter.
The visitors found good rhythm on the offensive end but missed so many open shots it gave the home team a lift and they capitalised with a resounding 28 points in this first phase.
Hillis McDonald and Hayes all found three point range for the Blackstone but the bulk of the missed opportunities came from close in as the Blackstone adjusted to the size of the Kilkeel back line in their zone.
On the offensive end Kilkeel had a field day against a lack lustre Blackstone 1-3-1 zone.
Missing for Blackstone was the power of Peter McNicholl that gives them a solid defensive rebound in this zone. Without him the Knights took advantage of the rebounding weakness.
The quarter ended with Blackstone switching to a man to man defence but the home team’s tails were up as the bombed in three successive three pointers.
In the second phase, Blackstone went to a press defence to upset the flow of the home team and they did reduce their scoring to 19 but their own accuracy was still in doubt as they again failed to produce the successful scoring needed at this level. Even the ever accurate Martin McDonald was not finding his range.
It was left to Michael Murray, Frankie McDonald and Adam Hillis to make a mark with moves to the basket to keep the Blackstone scoring rate respectable. With the full court pressure the Knights did turn the ball but Blackstone did not capitalise to give themselves an opportunity to contest this game.
Trailing 47–23 at the opening of the third the visitors had a mountain to climb and did make some good offensive plays to cut open scoring opportunities for both Hillis brothers Dean and Adam but the chances were squandered and again they managed to notch up only 14 points in the quarter.
The home team were sporadic in their performance but they had a 20 point cushion that was never under threat. They opened the gap to 30 points in the third with a shooting spree of five three-pointers on the trot.
In the fourth quarter, Blackstone put up a very aggressive and solid trapping defence that turned the ball on many occasions but failed to capitalise on the offensive end and again managed only 14 points.
Michael Murray put together some good post moves for 6 points and Adam Hillis and Ryan Hayes shot well from two point range both left and right.
In the key for the Knights the giant Kisielius was pulling down too many rebounds as the Blackstone got opened at the back and they fouled the forward to put him on the line to shoot 6 free throws.
All of this was significant as the again reduced the scoring of the home team who managed no threes in the fourth quarter but the Blackstone could not find their shooting gloves and did not make a big enough impact in transition or set play to cut back the deficit.
This weekend the Blackstone host Andersonstown Tigers tipping at 7.15 on Sunday night and coach McKee will be hoping for a better performance on their home court.
He will also be hoping for the return of Adam Murray who as well as McNicholl is out injured and badly missed in the starting line up.