Blasters blow away Wodonga
The Seymour Blasters have made it three in a row after defeating Wodonga on their home court by nine points.
Becoming just the second team in Country Basketball League’s North East division to complete a three-peat.
Following in the footsteps of the Shepparton Gators, which took out the 2011/12, 2012/13, and 2013/14 titles.
Down four points at quarter time, the Blasters chipped away at the margin before building a sixpoint lead going into the final quarter and running away with a 61-53 win.
Jordan Hockley top-scored with 14 points as well as getting the MVP award for the game.
Blasters coach Craig Hockley valued the overall success but insisted the chance to make history wasn’t on the team’s mind at the tip-off as Christian Brock, now 45, would be playing his swansong after starting with Seymour in the 1980s.
‘‘We touched on it at training, but on game day we didn’t mention it — we were working on playing for Christian, because we knew it was going to be his last game,’’ he said.
‘‘So that was probably our focus — we needed to perform well for him rather than worrying about the three-peat.’’
Hockley said while the talls got the job done for Seymour in the semi-final against Wallan, the grand final was a different story, with Seymour centre Liam Killey (10 points) and his direct opponent, Josh McKay (eight points) essentially negating each other.
Adding to this, Hockley said Blasters captain Robbie Sartori was shut down by Wodonga’s star player Mitchell Donovan, meaning Jack Murphy and Jordan Hockley were left to take control of the game after the Wolves looked threatening in the first half.
‘‘They got about eight points and were making baskets both inside and out, hitting a couple of threes and crashing the boards . . . so they were pretty dangerous in the second quarter,’’ he said.
‘‘Their number six (Mitchell Donovan) was causing us a fair bit of concern, so we had to switch Jordan on to him, because he had about 14 points by half-time.
‘‘But Jordan managed to shut him down and he only had four points in the second half — so that was our main tactical change, as he was keeping them in the game pretty well.
‘‘They also really tried to shut down our inside game by collapsing defensively . . . so we ended up shooting about seven threes . . . and that allowed the outside game to open up.
‘‘We knew they were going to work hard inside and hit the boards, but that was another change to make at half-time — making sure we boxed out and tried to limit their offensive rebounds and second chance points.’’
But Hockley said the game wasn’t won through defence alone, with the mercurial Leo Viitala, who top-scored for the Blasters with 24 points, clearly another key player to impact the game.
‘‘Leo came out shooting the ball really well in the first half,’’ he said.
‘‘He’s probably been a little bit inconsistent this year . . . but when he’s hot he can score at will — he’s had a few games where he scored high double figures.
‘‘In last year’s final he was also our top-scorer and took out the MVP for the game.’’
With the game largely in the balance the whole time, Hockley said he didn’t feel like the victory was sewn up until the Blasters were nine points clear with two minutes to spare.
‘‘I thought we had the experience at the end to make sure we hung on to the game,’’ he said.
‘‘Liam Killey got fouled out with six minutes to go so Christian Brock, in his last game, had to play out the game . . . and while he didn’t score, he certainly did a great job in defence.
‘‘We were all pretty excited to get the three-peat and also to see Christian Brock off after 30 years of playing with a win — that was pretty special for everyone.’’
Top year: Despite being wellheld in the Grand Final, Seymour captain Robbie Sartori capped off a great season by being selected in the North East Division’s All Star Five.
All smiles: The Seymour Blasters after beating Wodonga 61-53 to claim the 2017/18 Country Basketball League north east conference title.