Sport

Close loss to end season

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August 01, 2017

American import Justin Patton weaved his magic for the Gators on Saturday in what could be his final game for Shepparton.

Another close loss ended Shepparton Gators’ Big V season on Saturday night.

The Gators made the gruelling road trip to Warrnambool and led by six points early in the final quarter.

But with the Seahawks having finals on their mind, the home side rallied to win the match 92-85, outscoring the Gators by 11 points in the final term.

American Justin Patton starred in a spectacular offensive spree in what could be his final game for the Gators, finishing with 40 points.

Kyle Howe-Tipene shot 23 points, but no other Gator reached double figures.

Warrnambool dominated around the boards, bringing down 16 more rebounds than the Gators.

Shepparton coach Leigh Bathman could not fault his side’s willingness for the contest.

‘‘We had our chances to win down the stretch, but fatigue set in and the decision making wasn’t great,’’ Bathman said.

‘‘It was a long trip and I thought we did a really good job, acquitted ourselves well, but we didn’t always make great decisions with the ball in hand.’’

Captain Rob Sartori made the trip, but did not play due to ligament damage in his ankle.

Bailey Michel and Brady Neill also struggled with injury and the pair contributed six points each, but the latter did give off six assists.

Xavier Blount starred for Warrnambool with 30 points, but the Seahawks had four other players reach double figures, which proved to be the difference.

The Gators have missed the finals for the first time since 2013, finishing with a 6-13 record.

Shepparton was in most games during the season, with a 17-point loss to Melbourne University in April the heaviest defeat.

‘‘A couple of the kids have been impressive and we weren’t far away from having a good year, it just would’ve been nice to have a bit of extra size around,’’ Bathman said.

‘‘Some ill-discipline cost us the first game in Geelong, which we should have won, and it took us a while to recover after that.

‘‘We’ll need to improve in the off-season.’’

The Gators had their presentation function last night, with Patton a deserving winner of the MVP award.

Young big man Nick Dodd was announced as Shepparton’s Rising Star, while teenager Josh Labatlus took home the coach’s award.

The club is yet to talk to Patton and fellow American import Aubrey McAlpine, who suffered a season-ending achilles injury, to talk about their futures.

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