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Polished Gators run over Cougars

Shepparton Gators have lifted their intensity in the second half to post a strong victory over Keysborough Cougars in their Big V clash.

DAMEN FRANCIS April 1, 2014 4:15am

John Lee Lewis Jr scores on his Gators debut.


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Shepparton Gators jumped into the Big V division two men’s top four with a 15-point win against Keysborough Cougars in front of a vocal home crowd on Sunday.

The Gators were slow out of the blocks and lost the first two quarters before taking control after half-time and running away with it.

It was the Gators’ second straight win and one of their most impressive performances since returning to Big V last year.

‘‘We had a lot of different contributors and an even points spread,’’ coach Russell Parker said.

‘‘They were a bit physically stronger than us in the first half and we were a bit tentative on defence, but we picked the intensity up and it took care of that.

‘‘We’re progressing quite nicely and the boys have been saying they felt teams had improved from last year, so it’s a good sign we’ve been competitive so far.’’

Newly signed American import John Lee Lewis Jr made his first appearance in Gators colours and showed enough to suggest he would be a significant addition to the roster.

Lewis finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, two steals, three assists and a blocked shot in 26 minutes off the bench.

There remains scope for improvement, as he made just six of a team-high 15 field-goal attempts and committed five turnovers for the game, and Parker admitted the newcomer was a little too eager to impress.

‘‘He was very keen to do well and he might have been a little over enthusiastic,’’ Parker said.

‘‘He fitted in fine, but it was very early for him and there’s quite a bit of work to be done on how to best utilise him.’’

John Woodcock was the star, contributing 22 points, eight boards and two blocks and keeping Cougars giant Kevin Benn largely in check.

Benn recorded a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double, but had limited impact after half-time as Woodcock worked him over going the other way.

‘‘Kevin is just a great big man. He camps in the key, doesn’t get three-second violations called on him and is hard to defend,’’ Parker said.

‘‘John did really well. Benn was defending him and had to chase him up and down the court. I don’t think many guys in this competition would like chasing John up and down the court all day.’’

The only downside of the contest was a hip injury to captain Matt Bartlett, but the guard fought it out and still managed 12 points and five assists in 28 minutes.

Matt Waight (10 points, 11 rebounds and five assists) and Dylan Wayman (14 points, nine boards and four three-pointers) were also good.

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