Victory never tasted so sweet.
After eight straight Victorian Junior Basketball League Metro Two losses, the Shepparton Gators’ under-16 girls had fallen to the bottom of the table.
Facing a road trip to take on the toughest team in the competition on Friday, ladder leader Dandenong, the girls could have been forgiven for thinking they would be in for a tough night on the court.
However, what followed was nothing short of season-defining.
Tony Long’s troops clicked as a unit to snare a 45-31 triumph, in the process handing their opponent just its second defeat of the year.
‘‘They just pieced together a blinder,’’ Long said.
‘‘It was a solid team effort with no standouts, and that’s where the win probably came from.’’
The Gators have found high scoring efficiency tough this campaign, with this week’s total their second highest for the season, but Long said his side simply managed to find better areas to shoot from.
‘‘Dandenong weren’t scrappy, they played pretty well as well,’’ Long said.
‘‘Our passing was a lot better, we were able to find targets quite well and take shots from better spots.
‘‘It just proved what we can do when we get it all together.’’
Isabella Riley (14 points), Lilli Keck (seven), Dayna Williams (six), Ebony Grace (five), Tyler Atkinson (four), Laura Cole, Ella Cirillo and Brydie Keating (three) all hit the scoreboard in the win, while Vicky Burn and Charlotte Thomas also contributed well.
With only three games remaining in the season, the Gators are two points behind fifth-placed Collingwood.
The girls will have to do it tough to make the final five, with fixtures against Pakenham (fourth) and Bellarine (third) to finish the year, but must first overcome a Waverley team that it has defeated previously this season (44-41 in May) on Friday at the Shepparton Sport Stadium from 8.40pm.
But winning form is good form, and the Gators have no intentions of removing themselves from the winners list again.
‘‘We’ll see if we can finish the season off well,’’ Long said.
●The Gators’ under-16 boys did not fare quite as well as their female counterparts.
Josh Waight’s charges drew 48-48 against Latrobe City, with Mitch Markby (19 points) and Jordan Michel (17) unable to drag their side across the line despite outstanding performances.
The Victorian Championship Reserve season has four matches remaining (as well as a final eight system), with the Gators sixth.
However, only four points separates the Gators and ninth-placed City, meaning Waight’s side will need to secure at least two victories on the run home to be assured of a spot in the knockout action.
That quest begins on the road against Dandenong (seventh) on Friday night.