Shepparton Gators have dug deep to conquer Casey Cavaliers by one point to win their first Big V basketball championship in 11 years.OLIVER CAFFREY August 25, 2014 3:10am
Finals MVP JL Lewis takes part in the ceremonial net cutting following the game, while his Shepparton Gators teammates watch on in delight.
The drought ended in thrilling style.
Shepparton Gators captured their first Big V basketball championship in 11 years on Saturday night after downing Casey Cavaliers by one-point in a heart-stopping Division Two grand final.
After comfortably taking out the opening game of the best-of-three series at Shepparton Sports Stadium a week earlier, the Gators were pushed to the limit.
The early minutes indicated the Gators would have a massive fight on their hands to take out the title and avoid a potential game three the following day.
In front of a raucous capacity home crowd at Casey Indoor Sports Centre, the Cavaliers jumped out of the blocks to open up a five-point lead midway through the opening term.
The big-bodied and more experienced Casey team was fired up and intent on asserting a huge physical presence on the game.
But just as the Cavaliers looked to be skipping away to a handy lead, the Gators flicked the switch.
American centre JL Lewis, captain Matt Bartlett and an in-form Dylan Wayman all stepped up to hand the visitors an unexpected one-point lead at quarter-time.
The Gators never relinquished their lead from there, despite the best efforts of the home side.
Russell Parker was an extremely proud Gators coach after the game.
‘‘It’s elation — I didn’t think we deserved to lose the game, so I was really pleased for the boys that they got past the post,’’ Parker said.
‘‘They kept their head when it mattered, we’ve ended up with the result and one point is as good as winning by 10.
‘‘I think what’s happened over the course of the season and this finals series is we probably got a belief of what we were capable of and what we could do, whatever the situation.
‘‘Just knowing we’re never going to be beaten, I think that’s pretty much it and a bit of resilience in the end.’’
When Bartlett sunk another three-pointer midway through the third term, the Gators led by eight points.
However, the Cavaliers would not be outdone, getting a run on to level the scores at three-quarter time.
The Gators scored the first three baskets of the frenetic final term to grab a six-point advantage.
But there was still a final twist to the script.
The Cavaliers brought it back to a point with 1.38 on the clock before Lewis converted one of his two shots at the free-throw line.
Bartlett put the Gators four points up with eight seconds left before the Cavaliers sunk a miraculous three-pointer with a second remaining.
But with ball in hand at the final buzzer, the jubilant Gators were champions again.
Lewis was named finals MVP after a power performance that yielded 15 rebounds and 18 points.
Bartlett made clutch shot time again to finish with 31 points at 61 per cent from the field and made four out of five three-pointers.
Tom Frame had plenty of court time, while John Woodcock was powerful under the ring.
Goulburn Valley Suns have taken it right up to Kingston City only to go down by a single goal in a hard-fought National Premier Leagues contest.
The first preliminary final on Saturday saw the Tungamah seniors start their campaign against Waaia at the Rennie Recreation Reserve.
The Aboriginal and wider community is mourning the death of revered Bangerang Aboriginal elder, Uncle John ‘‘Sandy’’ Atkinson.
THREE words were chanted in unison at Hopwood Gardens, Echuca on Thursday night — bring them here.
EVERY day about 5000 motorists travel the Northern Hwy between Elmore and Rochester.
KYABRAM’S Margaret and Leonard Flint have come a long way since meeting in the early 1950s.
Avenel win over Nagambie to take top spot
Berrigan Shire councillor Daryll Morris says he has been sickened by some of the vitriol and personal attacks to surface since the council’s proposal to redevelop Finley’s Memorial Hall and School of Arts site was revealed in October last year.
YOU probably wouldn’t expect to find an intensive care nurse running an award winning hotel and brewery, but that’s exactly what you will find when you visit Tooborac.
The preparations for the 10th Cobram Swap Meet have been given a boost with a brand new line marker. The Rotary Club of Cobram, which organise the swap meet, applied for a volunteer grant from the Federal Government, from which it received $4600.
At 77 years of age, popular local golfer Paul ‘Tango’ has claimed his second hole-in-one.
Tuesday, August 16
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