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Echuca-Moama Lady Pirates into CBL semi-final

The men's Pirates team finished their comeback season with a diffiuclt double-header last weekend.

GEORDIE COWAN January 25, 2014 4:23am

Ben Ridge


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The Echuca-Moama Pirates will finish the Country Basketball League season in seventh spot and will not play finals.

All three of the team’s victories came on its home court, against Wangaratta, Maryborough and Castlemaine.

The season ended on the weekend with tough games against finals-bound teams Seymour Blasters and Shepparton Gators.

After a close first term against Seymour, the team fell away and a disastrous third term saw the margin at 30 points.

However, the Pirates fought back to win the last quarter 22-15, with Shaun Atkins (14 points), Glenn Hopson (13) and Rick Roberts (12) the main scorers as the team lost 69-92.

The team played its last match of the season on Sunday and came close to pulling off a big win against Shepparton.

The Pirates trailed by just four points at the last break after good first and third terms, but the visitors pushed away to win by 10, 54-64.

Staci Richardson (12) with four three-pointers and Hopson (10) led the way for Echuca-Moama, but the team could not hold Gators player Matthew Waight, who scored 23 points in his best game of the season.

Pirates coach Chris Clyne said he was happy with how the team played against the Blasters despite the final score.

‘‘It was just a couple bursts either side of half-time that blew that game out,’’ he said.

‘‘Probably for 34 or 35 minutes we were actually very competitive with them.

‘‘It was therefore disappointing to lose by that much after being so close ... but it carried out on to the Shepp game.

‘‘There we had a very good chance of knocking off a top-four team, but we just couldn’t do it.’’

While the coach had been hoping for a couple more wins, the season was as much about re-establishing the team in the competition as winning.

‘‘Realistically it was about getting competitive and gaining interest in the season for the men’s basketball program and I hope we’ve achieved that,’’ Clyne said.

The Pirates had a mixture of players aged over 30 and then a ‘‘good group’’ of guys in the 17 to 21 age group, he said.

‘‘Hopefully we can keep the bulk of the squad together,’’ Clyne said.

‘‘We will have a new crop of kids finish under 18s and hopefully we can get them to come here.’’

Rick Roberts and Anthony Matthews were the only two players to be involved in all 14 games and the coach paid tribute to their impact on and off the court.

‘‘It is a fantastic effort from our oldest player Anthony to have played all the games,’’ Clyne said.

‘‘He has been battling a few injuries ... but he is a handy player and his knowledge of basketball is very sound.’’

Clyne was also pleased with the development of 17-year-old Shaun Atkins, who averaged more than 15 points a game.

‘‘I was very impressed with how he went about it in what I think is his first full season of senior basketball,’’ he said.

‘‘It was a steep learning curve, but he has adapted well and I think he will be a very handy player wherever he goes.’’

■ The Lady Pirates lost their last match on Sunday but will play in a semi-final away against the Wodonga Lady Wolves next weekend.

The Lady Pirates lost to the Shepparton Gators 48-69 and finished fourth on the ladder.

With only seven players getting on the court, the Pirates lacked a little depth compared to the Gators but still competed well in the first and second quarters, falling four points behind during each term.

Unfortunately after trailing 32-40 at half-time, Shepparton pushed away in the third quarter to score 17-6 and finalise the win.

The Lady Pirates again locked down the visitors in the final term, but were still outscored 10-12.

Maddie Couroupis and Emilly Atkinson were the team’s top scorers with 12 points each, while Greta Pearson (8), Tess Ringin (7) and Georgie Eishold (6) also contributed to the scoring.

Shepparton had five players reach double figure scores.

■ A preview of the Lady Pirates semi-final will be in next Friday’s Riverine Herald.

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