Shepparton Gators' return to being a Big V force once again is due to a bunch of home-grown talent that has come through the junior ranks.OLIVER CAFFREY August 12, 2014 3:10am
JL Lewis was utterly dominant for the Shepparton Gators in their win against Keysborough on Saturday night.
A focus on local youth has powered Shepparton Gators to their first Big V basketball grand final in 11 years.
The Gators last played off in a Big V decider in 2003 where they defeated Sandringham Sabres on the road in the final game of a best-of-three series to take out the Championship division.
That was the last Big V title in a golden era for the Gators, where they claimed three championships in four years.
After a semi-final loss in 2004, the Gators endured a steady decline, which ultimately led to not playing in the Big V until last year.
However, the development of youth has led the way for a new generation of stars.
Greater Shepparton Basketball Association administrator Tony Long said the Junior Gators program and the North East Basketball academy continued to be a success.
‘‘The success we’re having now with the Gators is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the talent that come through together,’’ Long said.
‘‘The group of boys we have now are all home-grown, apart from (star American import) JL Lewis in the mix, they have all come through the program and are now reaching the heights that we have.’’
Shepparton Sports Stadium was packed like the glory days on Saturday night for game two of the Gators’ Division Two semi-final win against Keysborough Cougars.
Long said he was hopeful the success would inspire future generations to come.
‘‘The boys that are playing for the Gators now were watching those boys back in the early 2000s as little fellas and now they’ve come right through,’’ Long said.
‘‘We had the North East academy camp here on the weekend as well, with all the best regional kids, and hopefully that will have a flow-on effect for the next group of kids coming through.’’
The association is in discussions to field a Gators team in one of the three Big V youth leagues next year.
Training sessions for the Junior Gators’ under-12 to under-18 teams will begin at Shepparton Sports Stadium on Sunday.
A Shepparton man was car jacked on Colliver Rd Shepparton yesterday afternoon.
The Mulwala Lions took a huge step forward in the race for the Murray League title with a hard fought, low scoring, 15 point win, against the fancied Barooga outfit, in near perfect conditions at Lonsdale Reserve on Saturday.
Chelsea Campbell is excited with her new business venture, after purchasing Carol Taylor’s hairdressing salon in Hogan St.
THE Echuca-Moama Country Music Festival will kick off next week at Moama RSL with three days of entertainment under the one roof.
NATIONAL tree day came early for Rochester Secondary College with 16 students planting 350 trees in little more than an hour on Thursday.
Goulburn Valley Water, in consultation with the Department of Health & Human Services, has lifted the Boil Water Notice for the township of Tongala.
Australian Army Cadets unit keeps winning awards.
Finley's well-respected Gordon Pyle will be remembered by the Southern Riverina community
HEATHCOTE Park Raceway was back in action on Sunday with a surprise for those expecting owner Russell Clarke to be enjoying his retirement.
Dozens of birds of all shapes and sizes flew the coop as Cobram hosted its inaugural poultry auction last Sunday.
Neil Buckley has been inducted as president of the Deniliquin Lions for the next 12 months.
Superior Seed Co ran a successful Winter Cropping Field Day at Deniliquin last week.
The Benalla Giants came out winners in both the under-14s and under-16s against the Benalla Bulldogs on the weekend.
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