The Shepparton Gators’ under-16 boys held on for an important draw in the Victorian Junior Basketball League Victorian Championship on Friday night.
In a thrilling finish, Jordan Michel sunk a three-pointer on the buzzer to help his side escape with a 55-all stalemate against bottom side Blackburn at Slater Reserve.
The Gators did not come to the game switched on and were down by 18 at quarter-time, before working their way back into the contest.
‘‘It was a very disappointing start. We didn’t come out ready to play and found ourselves in a hole,’’ coach Josh Waight said.
‘‘We pegged it back in the end though, but we were lucky to escape with a draw.’’
The crucial two points moves the Gators into fourth on the ladder as the competition approaches the halfway mark of the qualification rounds, with the top five in each pool to play in division one for the second half of the season.
‘‘A draw is better than a loss and we’ll happily take the two points and come back refreshed for our next game,’’ Waight said.
‘‘It was a good learning experience. They know now that they have to come switched on every game.’’
The Gators face an even tougher challenge against Diamond Valley at Shepparton Sport Stadium on April 28 (after the school holiday break), as the victor will secure outright third on the table.
‘‘It will be a good chance to see where we’re at,’’ Waight said.
‘‘The boys will have a week or so off and hopefully come back ready to play their best.’’
The under-16 girls recorded their first win of the season, defeating Sunbury at home 42-30.
‘‘It’s fantastic to get the first win on the board, especially against a strong team like Sunbury,’’ coach Tony Long said.
The Gators dominated from the outset in what was a crucial victory for their hopes in the Metro Two competition.
‘‘It was a fairly convincing win in the end which was great for the girls,’’ Long said.
‘‘We got on top early and stuck with it. It was a really good team effort.’’
The girls will have to travel to Mill Park on April 21 to take on fourth-placed Korumburra, despite being the home side, as the distance between the two teams was too great.
‘‘The rules are that if the teams are more than 230km apart you have to play at a neutral venue somewhere near the midpoint,’’ Long said.
‘‘So that’s why we have to go to Mill Park for our next game. It’s the fairest way for all the teams.’’