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Gritty Gators score a double

Shepparton Gators have enjoyed back-to-back victories at the weekend with wins against Maccabi Warriors and Western Port Steelers.

DAMEN FRANCIS April 15, 2014 3:15am

Shepparton Gators passed yet another test of their credentials, with back-to-back wins in their first home-and-away double header of the Big V season.

The Gators scraped past Maccabi Warriors by five points at Bialik Stadium on Saturday night, before accounting for Western Port Steelers by 11 at Shepparton Sports Stadium on Sunday.

Neither performance particularly impressed coach Russell Parker, but the results showed his side had the ability to grind out wins.

‘‘Statistically we were better than both the other teams, but we didn’t cover ourselves in glory,’’ Parker said.

‘‘Coaches always want to play a 100 per cent perfect game, but realistically it’s more like the difference between 50 per cent and 75 per cent. You’ve got to win regardless and we did, which is pleasing.

‘‘We’re a third of the way through the season and we’re in good shape, so we’re not complaining.’’

Matt Bartlett recovered from a horror start in which he committed four early turnovers, to post 29 points against the Warriors, including four three-pointers, and a 41.7 per cent shooting percentage from the floor.

JL Lewis (17 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks), Matt Waight (13 points and eight rebounds) and John Woodcock (12 points and eight rebounds) were also prominent.

Benji Tamir caused plenty of problems for the visiting Gators, putting up 28 points, 13 rebounds and three assists.

Lewis led the way for the home side on Sunday, with a big double-double, hauling down 17 rebounds to go with a team-high 16 points.

The American import stuffed the stat sheets at the weekend, tallying 33 points, 26 boards, four steals, four assists and four blocks across the two games, all despite having root canal treatment late in the week.

Bartlett and Dylan Wayman, who hit just two of 16 shots from the floor for the weekend, had also been unwell.

John Woodcock suffered a knock to the shoulder in game one, but was able to take to the court Sunday.

Point guards Shannon Ralph and Tom Frame came in for praise for their performance on Steelers guard Manny Hendrix.

The pair kept the American to 18 points — well down on his season average of 32 going into the contest.

Parker used nine players across the two games and said it was disappointing he had been unable to hand court time to any of the club’s young players, due to the close contests.

The Gators sit second on the division two men’s ladder and have a week off for Easter, before returning to the court against Keysborough Cougars on April 27.

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