Bright lights, big crowds and elite basketballers were on show to watch the Shepparton Gators’ under-14 girls in Bendigo.
The Gators were given a special invitation from Women’s National Basketball League side Bendigo Spirit to perform at half-time during its clash with Melbourne Boomers on Saturday night.
The unforgettable experience included pre-game festivities, quarter-time involvement, a half-time game as well as a meet and greet with players afterwards, including Shepparton’s own Maddie Garrick.
Greater Shepparton Basketball Association’s domestic manager Tony Long was thrilled the Spirit gave the junior girls the opportunity.
‘‘We have a close association with the Spirit and for them to invite the girls over to participate in Bendigo was excellent,’’ Long said.
‘‘They absolutely loved it and thoroughly enjoyed meeting our own Maddie Garrick.’’
Garrick, who plays for the Boomers, spent several minutes post-game posing for photos and signing autographs for the young Gators.
The former Spirit guard won back-to-back premierships with Bendigo in 2013 and 2014, before moving to sign with the Boomers in 2015.
‘‘Garrick is an inspiration to some of these girls, she has progressed from where they are at the moment, so for them to meet her would have been a big thrill,’’ Long said.
Among all the hype surrounding the half-time game, the Gators were able to witness a thriller as the Spirit got back to winning ways, defeating the Boomers by seven points.