Shepparton Lady Gators will head into the week off before finals in a prominent position.
While the last round of Country Basketball League matches finish this weekend, the Lady Gators have ended their regular season knowing they can progress deep in the finals.
Chris Judd’s side was expected to crush Seymour on Saturday night and did not disappoint, enjoying the spoils of a 52-point win.
The Lady Gators were never in doubt against the Lady Blasters at Shepparton Sports Stadium, with the 94-42 result having the away side struggle with limited substitutes on a stifling night.
While Shepparton barely had enough room on the bench for all its players, Seymour brought just a squad of seven for the contest.
Captain and league leading scorer Rosie O’Sullivan was a notable absentee and the Lady Gators made the most of being freed from focusing on the star.
Shepparton built its win with key periods of dominance.
A stirling start had the Lady Gators pile on 10 points before the Lady Blasters were able to get on the board.
A tussle ensued for the rest of the quarter as the buffer sat at 11 points at first break, but again Shepparton stunned its opposition to start the second term.
Remarkably the home side allowed the Lady Blasters to score a measly five points during the entire second quarter, as a 30-point lead at half-time never slowed the Lady Gators.
Shepparton team manager Michelle Judd said the burst at the beginning of each quarter would be something it looked to continue in the finals.
‘‘We did start off the quarters really well and that’s a lot to do with the combinations and different rotations on the court,’’ she said.
‘‘Chris used a lot of different combinations to see how they’ll work come finals because you never know what will happen.
‘‘We looked at performances coming off the bench because some people like to start on the court or others like to come off the bench, Naomi (Amos) did a good job coming off the bench and it was nice not to have to flog the same horses in the heat this close to finals.
Judd praised the performance of Bev Rijs, who produced her best showing of the season as Shepparton has strung four consecutive wins together to lock in second spot on the ladder.
The Lady Gators will host Wangaratta on Saturday, February 3 having defeated the Lady Warriors by 12 points two weeks ago.
Although looking forward to a week off after playing in extreme temperatures, Judd said the Lady Gators would keep up their intensity.
‘‘It is nice (the break), although you don’t want to rest too much on the break, we’ll continue to train because it’s a cutthroat finals series,’’ she said.