Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Gators shrug off stubborn Warriors

Shepparton Gators have maintained top spot on the Big V division two ladder after fending of a determined challenge from Pakenham Warriors.

OLIVER CAFFREY June 3, 2014 3:15am

Shepparton Gators’ John Woodcock shot at 70 per cent from the field, finishing with 23 points in the win against Pakenham Warriors.

Shepparton Gators overcame a stubborn Pakenham Warriors outfit by nine points to retain its hold on top of the Big V division two men’s ladder.

The Gators were without several key players, including point guard Shannon Ralph, Tom Frame and Ian Wright, but still managed to secure their 10th win of the season at Shepparton Sports Stadium on Saturday night.

It was a significantly closer contest than when the Gators destroyed the Warriors in Pakenham three weeks prior, with the visitors even grabbing the lead in the third quarter.

But consistent performances from the starting five proved to be enough.

Gators coach Russell Parker said he was pleased with the victory, but knew there was still plenty to work on.

‘‘It was a good win, they had some additional players since we played them last, they’re wanting to push for a finals place, so they definitely made us work pretty hard,’’ Parker said.

‘‘In the most part I was happy with the defensive effort, but we still have some improvement to do across the court, we just let ourselves down mentally every now and again.’’

With several inexperienced players included on the bench, Parker was hoping to give the young Gators extended periods on the court.

The game was too tight for that to happen until late as Bailey Michel, Sam Beks, Bellamey Sims and Nick Dodd had limited opportunities.

Matt Bartlett was again the dominant scoring force, shooting 26 points, despite making just one of 10 three-point attempts.

He was well supported by John Woodcock’s 23 points, who went at 70 per cent from the field.

Import centre JL Lewis brought in 13 rebounds and finished with nine points.

Former Melbourne Tigers player Brett Rainbow had a big influence in his 26 minutes on court for the Warriors, while James McGrath led the way with 16 points.

The Gators have two weeks off before taking on the mid-table Oakleigh Warriors away on June 15.

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