Shepparton Lady Gators’ late run in the Country Basketball League has come to an end.
The Lady Gators were defeated in a knockout semi-final against Wangaratta on Saturday night, unable to gather the victory in front of a home crowd.
Aside from the initial minutes of the match Shepparton never took back the lead with the final scoreboard reading 65-50.
Coach Chris Judd said it was not the way he wanted his side’s season to come to an end as it struggled with accuracy.
‘‘We just couldn’t shoot the ball well, we had as many shots as the opposition,’’ he said.
‘‘Our defence was quite sound, it was just a fact of the matter that we didn’t put the ball in the hole.’’
Briana Moon topped the Lady Gators’ scoring with 12 points, with young Kior Zito next in line with 11.
As Shepparton was without key players Kristy and Sarah Down, Zito had plenty of expectation to perform.
Judd said the rising talent, 15, could not be faulted for her effort, as player development highlighted the season.
‘‘Young Kior Zito stepped up, she really did a good job as did Briana Moon,’’ he said.
‘‘Maddi Moroney has come on in leaps and bounds this year as a player and as a point guard.’’
While the young players provided a burst of energy, Judd did not discount the leadership assistant coach Naomi Amos provided.
He praised Amos for playing through an Achilles injury to steady the side with her presence.
She helped the Lady Gators remain in the game at half-time, trailing by only five points at Shepparton Sports Stadium.
Marni Sharp narrowed the margin to three early in the third term, but again Wangaratta drew out the buffer as the home side never looked like moving in front.
Heavy scoring from Rachel Jeffery and Alaana Northey brought the Lady Warriors the win, with a combined 37 points.
The Lady Gators changed their defence to deal with the two prolific scorers, with Bev Rijs trying hard to implement the move from a zone defence to one-on-one.
After finishing second on the table Shepparton was knocked out of the finals race against their third-placed opposition, with top side Wodonga receiving similar treatment.
After fourth-placed Wallan defeated the Lady Wolves, Wangaratta will face the Panthers in the north-east division decider.