Shepparton Lady Gators will host a Country Basketball League north east semi-final after closing its home-and-away season with a successful road trip at the weekend.By Damen Francis
Shepparton Lady Gators will host a Country Basketball League north east semi-final after closing its home-and-away season with a successful road trip at the weekend.
Back-to-back wins away to Maryborough Lady Blazers and Echuca Lady Pirates cemented the Lady Gators’ place in the top two, with six wins in their final seven games.
Undersized in both contests, Shepparton battled bravely and its superior shooting skills came to the fore.
Grace Hide led the way with 20 points on Saturday night, as the visitors cruised to 31-point win at Maryborough Sports and Leisure Centre.
With Shelby Britten, Rhianna Barton and Christina Reynolds all unavailable, an even contribution was needed and that is exactly what coach Chris Judd got, in a well-rounded team performance.
‘‘We had great input from Grace again, but the opportunity for Meg Hanna and Mikaela Owen to play more of a role presented itself well,’’ Judd said.
‘‘We gave away plenty of height, but as a team we worked on boxing out and got a lot of rebounds.’’
However, the going was a whole lot tougher at Fonterra Centre on Sunday.
Already boasting the size and power of Sheridan Townrow, the Lady Pirates had the services of Victorian Under-20 Women’s State Team representative Maddison Wild.
Fortunately, Barton returned to the Lady Gators’ line-up to limit the size imbalance.
‘‘Maddie Wild was four inches taller than any of our girls and broad across the shoulders,’’ Judd said.
‘‘I was able to bring Rhianna on and off the bench and she did a tremendous job.
‘‘She had a busy week at the Aussie Cup in Ballarat and was out on her feet at the end.
‘‘Tamica Roy had one of her best games of the season, she gave away probably five inches, but just scrapped hard all game.’’
A three-pointer from Britten with 90 seconds on the clock ended the Lady Pirates’ stubborn resistance, but a sweet shooting night from Jacqui Kitto (21 points) laid the groundwork for the 66-58 win.
The only blemish on an otherwise perfect weekend for the Lady Gators was a recurrence of Carly Judd’s knee injury against the Lady Blazers.
The point guard lasted little more than a quarter in her return to the court and will miss the remainder of the season.
Steph Lindner tore a thigh muscle, but is still expected to play a role in finals.
The Lady Gators will await the result of next week’s final round match between Seymour and Wangaratta, which will decide their semi-final opponent.
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