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November 24, 2016

Shepparton Gators' under-18 team won the Wangaratta Junior Basketball Tournament on the weekend.

It was a case of third time lucky for Shepparton Gators.

The under-18 boys’ team had been beaten in its previous two grand finals this season, but it made up for that disappointment at the Wangaratta Junior Basketball Tournament on Sunday.

Shepparton turned the tables on an 18-point loss to the home team in the round-robin stage to win the grand final by four points.

Wangaratta jumped out of the blocks and led the Gators 9-0, but the Dylan Wayman-coached team cleaned up in defence and that translated into attack.

After leading by a point at half-time, the Warriors pushed Shepparton all the way into an over-time thriller.

Fraser Hicks stepped up in over-time, making a clutch basket and converting free-throws to ice the game as the Gators prevailed 39-35.

The tournament started off in perfect style for Wayman’s side when it smashed Benalla 57-16.

Liam Dodd and Matt Dodd were dominant, while Ryan Sarkady impressed with his shooting from outside the arc.

The Gators backed it up in the next encounter, defeating Wodonga 38-29, as Nathan Cole and Nathan Grace played terrific games.

After a disappointing performance on Saturday night to lose to Wangaratta, the Gators’ tournament hopes were on the line against Echuca on Sunday.

Shepparton was given a significant test, but played well when it needed to and won 30-27.

The successful tournament will give the Gators confidence heading into the Shepparton Junior Basketball Tournament, starting on December 2.

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