Hibs Melita Gardens 65
(19-20, 8-14, 17-14, 8-17)
Hibs drew first blood in an intriguing encounter which had Luxol with the better start. But the Paolites returned strongly to end the first part of the match in front.
Luxol were close on more than one occasion after the interval but Hibs never relinquished their advantage and kept their cool till the end of the match.
It is still wide open between these two sides who meet again this week with the Paolites only a game away from the final. The two sides have now played each other on six occasions with Hibs winning four of them.
Luxol recovered Clementina Medina for this match as did Hibs who had Lucienne Bezzina and Alexis Cutajar back.
Joselle Cardona started the Paolites off with a couple of hoops but the Violets began to put in their triples with Beverlee Zammit sinking three of them along with others from Sarah Pace and Robin Murphy.
Hibs were still making their points and a late rally, when Lena Gipson came more into the picture, had them closer.
The Paolites completed a session ending 10-2 run with a Cardona triple to inch just ahead of their opponents.
In the second period, although the champions had Murphy overturning the score, it was Hibs once again pressing forward to make up another 10-0 run with more triples from Elena Cassar and Kirsten Baldacchino.
The Violets had to make a reaction with Murphy urging them on. They couldn’t get so much closer when the Paolites kept a tight rein. At the interval the score stood at 34-27.
After the break, it was the champions with an opening surge and a 7-2 run as they sneaked in to within a point.
The Paolites recovered with Gipson putting in her points to open up their advantage. Luxol had Pace nailing a brace of triples once more going to just a point away. Maria Desira gave Hibs a better lead at 48-44.
Points were scarcer in the final session. Cassar grabbed a hoop for Hibs but Murphy dragged Luxol back. Hibs managed a three basket spread but their new lead was short lived when free throws had the Violets back.
Their final push was, however, curtailed abruptly as Cassar flashed in her points including a trey to seal the game in a match ending 9-0 run.
Luxol: 14 S. Pace, 9 M. Sciortino, C. Medina, B. Naudi, J. Busuttil Gaerty, 2 G. Zarb, P. Ellul, 18 R. Murphy, D. Muscat, A. Paul, 9 B. Zammit
Hibs: J. Xerri, 16 E. Cassar, M. Zammit, L. Bezzina, F. Mifsud, 11 M. Desira, K. Gatt, A. Cutajar, N. Arrigo, 7 K. Baldacchino, 11 J. Cardona, 20 L. Gipson
Referees: G. Barbara, S. Gouder
McDonalds Depiro 69
Alyssa Ashley Loyola 50
(14-9, 14-9, 14-19, 27-13 )
Depiro had the better of Loyola in their first match as they opened up a lead after the first period of play. Loyola then had to chase throughout the rest of the encounter.
There were instances after the break when Loyola drew close, but they couldn’t overhaul their adversaries with Depiro opening up an advantage once more. They then made sure later on as they left their opponents in their wake.
Depiro recalled Maria Bonett in lieu of Justine Xuereb. Loyola were without Francesca Camilleri.
The game had an indecisive start with the lead changing hands no less than five times.
In the latter part of the session it was Depiro who forged forward with an 8-2 run mostly from Vontisha Woods for the first real advantage of the match. Loyola only had Desarae Johnson with a quick couple of baskets to show.
In the second session, Depiro had to reply to Loyola’s first hoops initially when Sam Brincat netted a triple. Loyola began to fade away again and Depiro spent the remainder of the period building up a long 9-3 run mostly from Brincat and Steffi De Martino.
At the halfway stage Depiro’s advantage went into a double figure on a 28-18 score.
After the break and early Woods hoops, an 8-2 run by Loyola brought them closer. Christina Grima kept trying and Loyola were closer – still a basket behind.
Depiro recovered through De Martino points as her side ended the period on a better lead and a 42-37 score.
Depiro were again in command in the last session with De Martino in a dominant mood also netting a triple in a heavy 12-1 run for Depiro with more hoops from Woods.
Johnson stopped them but Depiro were not finished as they put in another 7-0 run with a further De Martino trey.
Johnson went on with her points for Loyola for a more respectable scoreline with Depiro having more in reserve had they wanted.
Depiro: A. Mifsud, G. Mifsud, M. Bonett, 10 S. Brincat, 16 V. Woods, 8 F. Bianco, T. De Martino, 7 A. Borg, C. Sammut, M. Mifsud, S. Micallef, 28 S. De Martino
Loyola: 7 E. Moore, 15 C. Grima, 7 J. Doughty, D. Hollier,3 K. Tonna, 2 A. Bonanno, J. Mangion, A. Sciberras, 2 SJ Barbara, 14 D. Johnson
Referees: E. Mangani, C. Terribile