The under-16 Shepparton Gator girls will not feature in the Victorian Junior Basketball League Metro Two finals series, but it was not for a lack of trying.
Needing victory against a strong Pakenham side to stay in the hunt, Tony Long’s charges took the game right to the wire and fell 34-40 in a great display of grit and determination.
A pair of consecutive wins had thrust the girls back into contention after eight straight losses and the aim will be to finish the season with three triumphs in four games when they take on Bellarine at Mill Park tomorrow night.
The under-16 boys also failed to find success last week, but in a silver lining is certain to taste Victorian Championship Reserve finals action after Latrobe City also suffered defeat.
Josh Waight’s troops lost 44-49 to Werribee in their last home game of the regular season, with Mitch Markby (15 points), Hayden Brock (nine) and Oscar Hide (seven) leading the scoring.
The Gators play Bendigo (third) and Eltham (second) in the last two matches of the year and will use the clashes to tune up for the post-season.
●Shepparton export Maddie Garrick starred on Saturday night to help fast-track her Kilsyth Lady Cobras to a SEABL East Conference final.
The guard spent almost 38 minutes on court in the 74-66 win against Geelong, during which the Lady Cobras trailed at half and three-quarter-time.
Garrick scored 20 points, managed seven assists and secured as many steals as turnovers (three) in the victory, which gives the Lady Cobras a week off.
The only downside for Garrick was her accuracy from the field, shooting seven of 21 (including two of seven from outside the arc), but with the conference final scheduled for August 26 she will have plenty of time for practice.
●Maal-Ya secured a fifth-placed finish at the World Indigenous Basketball Challenge in Canada last week with plenty of help from a trio of Goulburn Valley stars.
Tyler, Sophie and Thamar Atkinson all featured prominently for their side, which won two of its three matches against some of the best indigenous talent in the world.
Point guard Tyler averaged eight points, six rebounds and almost two assists across her three matches, while Sophie (five points and almost three rebounds) and Thamar (2.5 points) also held their own on an international stage.