Shrita Parker is not your regular baller. She’s all of them. Emmet Ryan was enraptured by the game of the Glanmire import as she brought the full buffet with her but it wasn’t enough as Killester forced their way into the Irish women’s cup final
Shrita Parker is not your normal US import in Ireland. She’s good, that’s not the shock, but it’s how she’s good that stands out. Normally under-sized players that get the call here are defence first grinders. With Glanmire on Saturday, she was reminding everyone else that she’s a flat out baller. At 5’7″ she’s not all that short but players of her build that land here don’t usually run through the lane with power while blending it with a sweet outside game. Having been second team All Colonial last year with UNC Wilmington, she was in MVP form to start against Killester in this cup semin final.
Inside of 4 minutes she had 10 points gathered in a variety of ways. First the simple short range jumper. Then came a three. That was followed with some fantastic athleticism, stealing the ball off an errant pass at the top of the key, she drove past two defenders to the hoop before finishing and drawing the and-1. Then came the baseline slip inside.
She wasn’t remotely out of breadth, more scores followed along with some nice creative play as Glanmire blew a whopper of a hole in this early, racing into an 18 point advantage.
You get athletes here, you get serious shooters, and you get people who can just bully people. Parker is the rare combination of an import in that she is all three at once, easing between whatever is needed at all stages of the possession. Were she 3 inches taller, she probably wouldn’t even have taken a look at Ireland. She’d have gotten a much better offer from somewhere in Europe that would have been impossible to turn down. Instead, Glanmire coach Mark Scannell had once again landed on an absolute gem of an import and she was bullying the opposition whatever way she liked.
Reed has gotten to know the city well. Cork is quite a different spot to Virginia Beach, where she grew up, never mind Wilmington or Piscataway, where she spent her first three college seasons with Rutgers. In an interview with John Coughlan of the Echo, she spoke fondly of the time she has spent here alongside fellow import Tatum Neubert (formerly of Colorado State).
So, how did Killester win this game? More depth, more poise, and the sheer ability to survive an onslaught that combined elements of Rambo and the Viking on Stamford Bridge.
Killester managed to get their act together while Parker sat. The Dublin club has some serious championship pedigree in general but this year’s version has quite a connection in her family. Adella Randle El’s cousin Antwaan threw a memorable touchdown pass to Hines Ward in a gadget play that proved crucial to the Pittsburgh Steelers winning Super Bowl XL.
That stint on the bench seemed to cool off Parker a little too much. In the half court Killester had switched up to a more manic defensive system, sacrificing their shape to ensure she was covered heavily at all points in the possession. It was unconventional but effective and the gap cut to just 4 early in the second. Karl Kilbride was particularly aggressive with this approach, ensuring it was always a fresh body or as close to one as he had on the assignment. That limited Parker significantly in the half court and she wasn’t as effective on the break either with her rhythm off.
Mid court, mid second quarter, Parker said whatever and drove past Michelle Clarke on a beeline to the paint only to suddenly hit a three woman wall. Once more she had to put up a low percentage shot and it was destined only for iron. She finally got the ticker back going on the next possession from the line. The fire had dimmed a bit but you could see her beginning to find it again.
Late in the half, the load on Parker went up in a rough way. Neubert, her roomate, hurt her ankle badly under the bucket. The cries of pain were audible as she received treatment before being brought behind the bench for more attention. It’s the type of nightmare situations all imports have to put out of their minds. Ireland is usually a first stop for players who get here, one bad injury and your season is done and you’re on the plane home. It might also mean basketball, at a serious level, is too. The agony was only compounded by the fact that Nuebert’s mother had flown in from the US to watch her. That’s the type of concern that could drive a youngster fresh out of college crazy. The only way to deal with it is to live with whatever may come.
Parker finally made her first field goal of the frame late on and it came at a crucial time, stretching the lead back to 8 points on a mid-range two when the were beginning to look vulnerable.
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Second half, back to work but this was a game now. Parker got beaten badly by Randle El as Killester brought it back to within the minimum. Parker took out vengeance by schooling Clarke before nailing a short-range jumper. She was not here to mess around. The next time Randle El went at her, Parker just plain shut her down. The rhythm was back right when Glanmire needed it.
While Parker took charge, there was good news on the sideline. Neubert didn’t look remotely suited to going back in but she was up walking fine and looked in much better form. At worst, this was a week or two down, she’d not be moving out of the Ambassador hotel anytime soon. Now she just needed her team to ensure she had a cup final to get healthy for.
In the middle of the third, it looked like it could go either way as Killester were right down the throats of Glanmire, mostly through Randle El. The Dublin side tied it up for the first time in the game before Rebecca Nagle gave them their first lead of the day. What began as a drubbing led by Parker was now very much in the balance.
Through the end of the quarter it looked like Killester were taking over and Parker was being shut down hard. Down 8, she took the ball up the floor, into traffic, and a turnover. This was not what she needed from the game, her numbers looked great in both accounting and efficiency but now things weren’t working.
Then came the boost that looked unthinkable only 20 minutes earlier. Neubert was back in. Her right ankle was heavily strapped but clearly she felt she needed to get out there and do something. A pair of Parker free throws cut the deficit but the roomies were going to need a big final frame as Glanmire trailed by 6 going into the final 10 minutes.
The grind was there. She’d shown the flash but now Parker was reminding us she could fight. Working with Neubert she quickly started bruising the Dublin club on both ends. A long three made it a 2 point game. Neubert grabbed the defensive board on the next possession then, after a heap of recycling, a three from Parker gave Glanmire the lead back and pushed her total to 32 on the day. Then she went back inside, spinning it off the glass for the finish. Just to remind you she wasn’t all scoring, Parker drove from the elbow, brought in all the defenders, and neatly offload to Casey Grace for a soft finish.
The game was far from done because Randle El had found her outside game after spending the guts of the afternoon bulldozing her way through the paint. Killester had been stunned but they were still getting more out of their supporting cast than Glanmire. Aislin McCann from deep made it a 5 point lead to the Dublin side with 1.23 to go.
With a bit of work, Parker was able to get this into a situation that could be saved. Glanmire trailed by 3 points, with possession, and 10.6 seconds on the clock. She called her own number. This time it didn’t come up. Parker’s final line of 38 points, 10 boards, and 1 assist was extraordinary. It just wasn’t enough.