Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Wasteful Shepparton Gators lose season opener

A number of missed shots late in the game proved costly as Shepparton Gators lost their opening match of the Big V season to Casey Cavaliers.

DAMEN FRANCIS March 18, 2014 4:52am

Gators guard Matt Waight lines up a free throw.

Profligacy and a lack of power in the paint cost Shepparton Gators the points in its Big V season opener against Casey Cavaliers at Shepparton Sports Stadium on Sunday.

The home side led at three-quarter-time, but the issues that plagued its progress last season were again on show as the Cavaliers ran away with the match.

Already without injured and unavailable pair John and Dave Woodcock, the Gators lost returning power forward Ian Wright, who fouled out early in the third term.

Jack Threlfall racked up his fifth foul early in the last, leaving teenager Nick Dodd as the only big in the Gators’ front court.

Gators coach Russell Parker said it was a disappointing way to start the season, but there were positives to take from the performance.

‘‘They probably dominated us inside and we missed quite a few open shots down the stretch,’’ Parker said.

‘‘If John and Dave Woodcock played we probably would have won, because otherwise we were probably at their level.

‘‘We shot well from the three-point area, but we missed some layups and we had a lot of good looks at the basket, but came up empty.’’

Captain Matt Bartlett’s game summed up the Gators’ troubles.

Bartlett led the scoring for the home side with 29 points, including six treys, but found the basket just once from 11 attempts inside the arc and shot an uncharacteristic 60 per cent from the free-throw line.

Fellow guards Matt Waight, Dylan Wayman and Tom Frame also reached doubles figures for points, but were unable to get much going inside.

The Gators shot a terrific 52.4 per cent from outside on 21 attempts, but just 34.5 per cent from the floor, compared to Casey’s 46.7 and 43.8 per cent respectively.

Both sides shot 66.7 per cent from the charity stripe.

The Cavaliers also had more success creating their own shots, tallying just three assists for the game, compared to the Gators’ 10.

American import Matt Pebole was the main threat for the visitors, racking up 30 points on 11 of 20 shots from the floor, but Parker was fairly happy with how his side guarded the 198cm small forward.

‘‘I thought we had him matched up, but every now and then we had a lapse,’’ Parker said.

‘‘He shot 19 points in 12 minutes the night before, so he can clearly play.’’

The Cavaliers were backing up from a win against Wodonga Wolves the night before, but showed little sign of fatigue as they ran out the game better.

Before tip-off, Parker said he expected teams to take the Gators more seriously this season and that was evident on the opening weekend.

With Saturday night’s game a comfortable result, Casey was able to limit the minutes of his starting unit with one eye on the second half of its north-east roadtrip.

It was also an inauspicious start to the season for referees, with Parker questioning the high number of fouls called.

‘‘The refereeing was substandard for both sides,’’ he said.

‘‘The referee conveners told us how they intended to blow for fouls, but they didn’t seem to follow through on that.’’

The Gators are on the road against Coburg in round two next weekend.

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