Down Vikings vs Omagh Thunder – Saturday 19th Jan 13
Despite the snow the night before, Omagh Thunder made the long journey to Downpatrick on Saturday for their second game with the Vikings this season. In the season opener, the Thunder handled the Vikings well at home although for this trip they were missing key players and lacking height.
Omagh made a decent start to the quarter keeping pace with the Vikings with 10 points from player/coach Aidan Bradley including two 3-pointers. Although the Thunder defence weakened towards the end of the quarter as the legs tired and the Vikings took a 19-12 lead at the break.
The second quarter saw a lot of scoring on both ends with Bradley knocking in two more 3-pointers before the Vikings rallied and took a 12 point lead. The Thunder responded with a rally of their own as their confidence grew. A three-ball from Hale followed by scoring from Stephen McAleer and Padraig Donovan kept Omagh in contention and left them 8 behind at half-time but with a renewed vigour for the comeback.
A switch in defensive tactics to start the third quarter was a wise move as the Thunder’s zone defence denied the Vikings any chance of getting near the basket. This gave Omagh a rebounding edge and led to another rally with Hale, Donovan and McAleer able to score over the home defence. Two more 3’s from Bradley gave the Thunder their first lead of the game as they ended the quarter 55-53 up and ready for a tense final quarter.
In the fourth the Thunder brought on their young sharpshooter Vytarus Jankus who immediately impressed by hitting from distance to keep Omagh’s confidence high. Two more brilliant 3-pointers from Jankus helped Omagh to a 10 point lead with not long to play. The Vikings drove hard to the basket and consistently got to the free throw line to narrow the Thunder’s lead in the final few minutes. Dermot Gillan had two important baskets late in the quarter to keep Omagh ahead and after twice getting clobbered with no whistle from the referee, McAleer fittingly iced the game for the Thunder in the final 30 seconds with a lay-up after a nice pass from Hale.
The comeback win was complete and Omagh took the win by 5 points. This leaves them third in the division behind the unbeaten Newry Flyers and Armagh Bisons who have only lost once. The Thunder now face a run of three away games including a tough test at Newry.