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Junior Gators ready to defend home turf

Shepparton's Junior Gators are ready for whatever visiting teams have to throw at them this weekend at the annual Shepparton Junior Basketball Tournament.

DAMEN FRANCIS December 7, 2013 4:51am

Briar Rodaughan, 11, Ethan Batey, 12, Noah Phillips, 12, and Kior Zito, 12, will be among 150-plus Junior Gators that hit the court this weekend.

Greater Shepparton Basketball Association’s Tony Long has welcomed the hoard of junior basketballers attending this weekend’s 38th annual Shepparton Junior Tournament, but had an important message for them — ‘‘bring it on’’.

Eighteen Shepparton Junior Gators teams and about 150 players will defend their home courts against nearly 150 visiting teams and 1700 players in the two-day competition, which begins today.

‘‘We’re coming out to beat them,’’ Long said.

‘‘It’s our home tournament and we want to show what we can do in front of our home crowd.’’

The tournament comprises 238 games today and 152 games tomorrow, including 21 grand finals, across divisions from under-12 to under-18 for boys and girls.

Sixteen courts will be used at nine different venues in Shepparton, Tatura and Kyabram, with 200 volunteers donating their time to ensure it all runs smoothly.

These include court marshalls, canteen operators and those to clean up the courts during and after the tournament.

Twenty-four teams, including Shepparton, will be represented, with some travelling from as far as Traralgon, Mildura, Warrnambool and various parts of Melbourne to take part.

Long said they made the effort for a reason.

‘‘It’s one of the biggest tournaments in Country Victoria and we have a reputation for being one of the best,’’ Long said.

‘‘It’s nice timed, well-placed for a lot of teams and always attracts good competition.

‘‘This is a massive event for us and for the town.

‘‘(Greater Shepparton City) Council has done studies that show it generates an estimated $1.2 to $1.5million for the town and it’s our major fundraiser for the year, so we can’t wait.’’

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