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.
Shepparton businesses The Windscreen Savers and Makar Automotive were severely damaged in a blaze that was started by a welding operation.
Police investigating a break and enter at a Mulwala club more than 10 years ago are renewing their appeal for public assistance by releasing an image of a person they believe has information to assist them.
Tatura’s Victory Hall is set for a big year as preparations get under way to celebrate the hall’s 90th birthday in September.
Former district resident and award-winning television producer Joanna Werner will no doubt be shopping for a glitzy gown ahead of the Emmy Awards in New York on February 20.
Rochester Secondary College school captains Dom Atley and Tim Poole have been accepted to study biomedical science in the first step towards becoming doctors.
Will it be Merrigum or Lancaster?
Fire destroys key public buildings in Seymour
Finley Henry Matheson was bestowed one of the highest Australia Day honours.
Heathcote Hostel residents were treated to a visit from Heathcote’s favourite horse, Sub Zero, as part of Australia Day celebrations.
Recent weather conditions have come as a mixed blessing for farmers, with high rainfall and humidity providing a respite for irrigators as well as difficult growing and picking conditions for fruit growers.
Darren McLoughlin only started playing croquet seven years ago.
From orchards to harvest to shelves, a new exhibition will celebrate the Goulburn Valley’s iconic fruit industry. The Photos of the Fruit Industry exhibition will run as part of the SheppARTon Festival in March and aims to share memories and history of an industry that has shaped the region.
Former Benalla footballer Tom Rockliff has been named captain of the Brisbane Lions Football Club.
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.