Shepparton Junior Gators completed a remarkable few months of representative basketball with victory.By Damen Francis
The spectacular success of Shepparton Junior Gators’ under-18 girls team this season represents the epitome of true teamwork, coach Chris Judd says.
The Junior Gators completed a remarkable few months of representative basketball with victory in the division one grand final at the Basketball Victoria Country Junior Championships on Sunday.
Judd said it was the team’s ability to work hard and seize the moment that proved the difference all weekend.
‘‘The team worked particularly well with each other and and for each other,’’ Judd said.
‘‘Against Southern Peninsula they threw everything at us, man-to-man, a press and a zone and we just broke through all of it.
‘‘All seven players made their contributions, even Lauren Murray and Janie (Burn) in limited minutes.’’
A little bit of luck didn’t hurt either.
‘‘At the end of (grand final) game Shelby (Britten), Mikaela (Owen), Sarah (Down) and Rhianna (Barton) had four fouls each and Ash (Lancaster) had fouled out, so a few more fouls and we would have been in serious trouble,’’ Judd said.
On day one, Shepparton had to get past talented opponents Warnambool and Southern Peninsula just to reach division one.
Overtime was required against Ballarat in the quarter-final and only via a Britten trey with 0.6 seconds on the clock to level scores.
Wangaratta proved no match in the semi-final, before the final against Traralgon, which ended 44-40.
The association’s success continued in the under-16 girls competition, with victory in the division two final.
Shepparton crushed Sale in its opening game, but came up short against powerhouse associations Geelong and Southern Peninsula on day one.
The results left the Gators third in pool C and earned them a spot in the division two quarter-final, where they beat Swan Hill, before accounting for Warragul and Maffra in the semi-final and grand final respectively.
Prior to the weekend coach Tony Long said he would be satisfied with a division one appearance or victory in division two and he stuck by that.
‘‘The girls played really well, they pushed Geelong and Southern Peninsula all the way, they were just not quite good enough to get over the line,’’ Long said.
‘‘The grand final was tough, because Maffra had played one less game, but the girls hung tough and it was a top effort.’’
Genna Ogier was the stand-out player for the team, of which most will move on to under-18s next season.
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