Aquinas Grammar School claimed the last Ulster schools basketball title of the year when they defeated St Malachy’s College 25-12 in the Year 8 Vince Halloran final at the Antrim Forum.

In the preliminary games, Aquinas came through their pool easily with Matthew Rainbird and team captain Dara Curran putting up some great scores against OLPSCK and St Mary’s.

The semi final against St Patrick’s Academy Dungannon proved a nail biting affair as Aquinas squandered a 10 point lead in the second half.  However, Christian Onella proved the hero as he grabbed an offensive rebound with three seconds and dropped the ball in to secure a play-off.

Aquinas dominated the first quarter of the final racing into a 7-0 lead.  However, by half time the lead was only one point (9-8).  The third quarter saw Aquinas waste endless opportunities from the free throw line but going into the last six minutes the Ravenhill Road school still led 14-12.

The final period saw Aquinas dominate at both ends of the court.  Great defence held the Antrim Road scoreless while Aquinas got going offensively.  Right on the buzzer Christian Onella scored a three pointer from inside his own half to round off a great day for the new champions.  This was the seventh final in ten years for PE teacher Joe McAufield and his teams and is the first time they have taken the Year 8 Ulster title which has been dominated by their cross town rivals.  He was unable to hide his delight with victory against his alma mater.

Onella led all scorers with 11 points, Curran had 7 while Rainbird and McFarland had 4 points apiece.

It’s been another successful year for Aquinas on the basketball front.  Along with the Vince Halloran cup, they also claimed the U16 Ulster title and were runners-up in three other age groups.  A trip of a lifetime to Florida for 27 pupils in October and the recent selection of Eoin Nagle and Daniel Leggett to the Basketball NI team capped off another action packed season for the school basketball program.