Chyna Latimer had a scoring outing for the ages as her 34 points against WIT Wildcats proved decisive in Killester’s victory in Irish Cup semi final.
Beauty can be truly ugly. The long three ball put up by Sarah Hickey midway through the first quarter had the weirdest mechanics and looked destined to clear the backboard when it left her hands. Bank shot, net. Shows what I know.
That gave WIT Wildcats a temporary edge in what proved to be a splendid first quarter against Killester for the neutral. Wildcats were spreading things out nicely while Chanell Williams was dancing through the WIT D for the Dublin side.
Physically speaking, WIT clearly had the edge in pure power but Killester had plenty of length to work with in Ella McCloskey and Ieva Bagdanaviciene, the latter a new arrival in the league after a lengthy career in Germany.
There was far more fluidity to Hickey’s fast break score to give WIT a rare two possession lead late in the opening frame as she breezed down the open court for an easy lay-up. This however was the Williams show as she did a mini dance off before finishing to cut the gap to two before getting swarmed and making a step back J to tie it up.
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More Williams magic, both as scorer and creator, early in the second pushed Killester into what seemed to be the driving seat. Unfortunately for the side in orange and black, it got there right as the game hit some heavy traffic with both sides walking into jams in the paint.
Chyna Latimer went to work for Killester to get some rhythm going again but the second quarter still wasn’t quite going at the fluidity of the first. The nerves of elimination ball were starting to show a tad. That being said, the normal fear with such games for those without a rooting interest is that it’s like that from opening tip until teams find something. This felt more like a temporary blip than the prospects of 40 mins of treacleball.
Karli Seay, with a surname designed to ensure pundits and commentators do too many plays on words to mention, proved a sparkplug off steals and put WIT back in the lead as the game edged towards halftime. The flow was back and Kate Hickey’s three had WIT rolling.
With 30 of Killester’s 42 points in the first half coming from Latimer (18) and Williams (12) there was no doubting who the Dublin side would be leaning on if they were to pull this one out. An early score from Deegan upon the resumption made her the fourth Wildcat to hit double digits, alongside Seay and the two Hickeys.
Where the Dublin side was struggling at creating second chance opportunities with WIT having 46 shots compared to just 35 for Killester in the opening 20 minutes. The far superior efficiency however of Killester ensured this one stayed plenty tight.
Tremendous execution from Latimer in the low block was the clearest example of this as she had no trouble ignoring the attentions of Jasmine Walker on D. Having briefly trailed by a game high 7 points, Latimer’s work combined with a three from Bagdanaviciene had Killester back on level terms late in the third before Latimer put them back in front from the line.
There was only the minimum between them entering the final frame, thanks in no small part to a Sarah Hickey bucket that looked like it had a shot clock violation beforehand. Arguably more important than that was the foul she drew off Latimer early in the fourth as with the Killester star moving to four fouls, it was a worrying situation for the Dublin side.
Walker, who had been relatively quiet offensively for most of the encounter, scored from deep to finally make some use of the advantage of Latimer sitting as she cut the gap back to the minimum but Williams was doing fine carrying the load without the taller half of her tandem.
Latimer returned with 5 minutes to play, a little earlier than expected and the spark was obvious as the lead moved out to 7 points from a McCloskey lay-up. With Wildcats looking tired, it Killester’s for the taking. A Mimi Clarke lay-up appeared to remove all doubt with 91 seconds on the clock but Karli had her Seay…sorry, I did warn you…to briefly make it manageable again for Wildcats. Latimer however wasn’t here for a Cinderella comeback and she proved the closer as she pushed past the 40 mark on the game late to secure the win and a place in the final in a fortnight.