Shepparton News

ROAD CLOSED

GATORS CAN’T GO ANY FURTHER AFTER FINAL TWO ROUNDS OF BIG V ARE DITCHED BY RULING BODY

- By AYDIN PAYNE

It is now a time to reflect on this year’s Big V Division One season for the Shepparton Gators after the remaining rounds were cancelled.

Following the Victorian Government’s decision to extend the lockdown in Melbourne to September 2, Basketball Victoria decided to pull the pin on the final two regularsea­son rounds.

The governing body has opted to move all divisions and conference­s to a top-four finals system, bringing the eighth-placed Gators’ campaign to an abrupt end.

“Obviously it’s a disappoint­ing way to end the season,” Gators coach Josh Waight said.

“But it’s good to finally get some clarity and now we can move forward.”

The announceme­nt from Basketball Victoria came last week, before regional Victoria plunged into lockdown at the weekend.

Finals games will be played at metropolit­an venues only and completed over a single weekend of September 9-12.

A reserve weekend has been set for September 16-19 in an attempt to complete the season, but if restrictio­ns continue by September 13, the season will be cancelled with no team declared the winner.

Now in a time of ref lection, Waight described the Gators’ up-and-down season as a learning curve.

The outfit finished with an 8-9 record and with the fourth-highest percentage in division one.

“It was a fairly roller-coaster season. We had some great wins, but we also had some bad losses that hurt us,” Waight said.

“That inconsiste­ncy really hurt us because we felt that our best could match it with the better sides in the competitio­n.

“The season was a real learning curve for us and it was also just great to be back out playing after missing last year.”

In terms of individual performers, the Gators’ star guard Matt Bartlett enjoyed a brilliant year on the court.

Bartlett topped the league for assists per game with 5.76, while his 18.86 points a game left him in fourth for scoring.

“Matty was excellent this season as a leader,” Waight said.

“He did a great job of using his strengths. I thought what stood out most was how well he was able to change his game to help the team.

“He would go from scoring really well to then changing his role midgame and be able to find his teammates with his passes.”

But the entire Gators line-up shone brightly.

Waight was full of praise for Tom Frame, Nick Dodd, Dylan Wayman, Sam Beks and the rest of his roster.

“Everyone could contribute, we saw that with performanc­es from Nick, Tom, Sam, Dylan and Jordy (Michel) over the season,” he said.

“We felt that was our greatest strength and the fact that we didn’t have to rely heavily on the one player to perform.”

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