Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Shepparton Gators close in on championship

Shepparton Gators are a step closer to getting their hands on Big V Basketball Division Two's trophy after defeating Casey Cavaliers on Saturday night.

OLIVER CAFFREY August 18, 2014 3:10am

The Gators’ Tom Frame jumps high for this ball.

Shepparton Gators are one win away from Big V Basketball Division Two men’s championship glory.

After a slow start, the Gators comprehensively outplayed the Casey Cavaliers by 17 points in front of a mammoth crowd at Shepparton Sports Stadium on Saturday night.

Shepparton will go to Casey Indoor Leisure Centre on Saturday night in hope of wrapping up the best-of-three grand final series.

If the Cavaliers manage to win game two, the decider will be played the following day at the same venue.

Gators coach Russell Parker said he couldn’t have asked for much more from his group.

‘‘It’s a really great performance, you expect your team to get out and play well in a big game, and tonight they really did and pretty much followed the game plan to perfection,’’ Parker said.

It was a frenetic start to the match with the taller Cavaliers team attempting to assert a physical presence on the contest.

The visitors got out to a six-point lead near quarter-time, but a late three-pointer from Dylan Wayman cut the deficit to three at the first change.

It was all the Gators from the start of the second quarter as they were on fire at the offensive and defensive ends.

‘‘It was a bit of a slow start, we knew we had to improve and work on things to get better at, but you couldn’t complain about the effort in the second quarter, which was terrific,’’ Parker said.

The Gators went at 50 per cent from the field as they won the second quarter 25-8 to take a 14-point lead into half-time.

Captain Matt Bartlett failed to train all week due to foot soreness, but you wouldn’t have known it.

Bartlett finished with a game-high 20 points at 53 per cent from the field and made eight assists.

Wayman started on the bench, but made an immediate impact after coming on midway through the first quarter.

He scored 17 points and shot four three-pointers.

JL Lewis didn’t have the best night scoring-wise, but produced 13 rebounds and threw his 204cm frame around the court.

With the Gators’ lead blowing out during the third quarter and the win all but secured, it gave Parker a chance to rotate the bench.

Ian Wright and Tom Frame all played significant minutes, while Lewis and Bartlett were able to rest up ahead of this weekend.

‘‘We got enough people through there, we expected seven or eight guys would be the limit for the night, but we rotated well,’’ Parker said.

‘‘I think what we did was we took the Cavs’ physicality and used it to our advantage — they’re going to come back better prepared next week and we need to be prepared for that.’’

See more on the Gators in tomorrow’s News.

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