No show almost a ref up

January 09, 2018

Almost there: Shepparton's Maddi Moroney looks to move in and regain possession for the Lady Gators.

Catch me if you can: Shepparton's Marni Sharp was unstoppable on Saturday night, scoring 17 points during an outstanding match.

Dodging traffic: Shepparton rising star Kior Zito looks past Myrtleford's Paige Zamperoni.

Play can go on: After the rostered referees did not turn up, two different officials stepped in to the role to allow play to continue.

Finding a way: Shepparton's Mikaela Owen can still see a clear line to the basket , scoring 11 points on Saturday.

While the start of the game may have been delayed, Shepparton Lady Gators made up for lost time with a blistering start.

As no referees turned up on time for the Lady Gators’ clash with Myrtleford on Saturday night, both sides were left in the lurch following the warm-up.

But after the officials were sorted, Shepparton did not need any time to build into its first game following the Christmas break.

The Lady Gators went 9-0 up on the way to a 74-64 victory at Shepparton Sports Stadium.

Assistant playing coach Naomi Amos was in awe of how her side began after the delay.

‘‘The girls started absolutely brilliantly, we went out and started the game and took the game to them,’’ she said.

‘‘We had to warm-up and then all of a sudden had to wait another 10 minutes and sit on the bench and have a drink and I was worried we’d lose focus, but fortunately we started so well.’’

The entire first half belonged to Shepparton, with the home side stifling their opposition’s attack.

A zone defence caught the Saints off guard as the away team struggled for accuracy under pressure.

In contrast, the Lady Gators had plenty of contributors as Marni Sharp top-scored in a phenomenal performance.

Usually Sharp plays second fiddle to Rhianna Barton, but this time she was the star with 17 points.

‘‘She was hitting shots and producing excellent defence, she was just in the game and her head was there and it was brilliant,’’ Amos said.

‘‘Rhianna Barton was the same again, she was fantastic and had 15 points and Mikaela (Owen) had her own presence coming into the team and as an old Gator she knows everything and fits in quite well.’’

The temperature inside the stadium was at about 30°C, but it had no impact on Shepparton players’ mindset.

Surging to a 23-point lead at half-time, the buffer allowed for a slight lapse in the third term as Myrtleford began to gain some traction.

Some three-point baskets from the away side late in the final term slowly decreased the margin, but the quick start meant Shepparton could not be caught.

With just two games remaining in the Country Basketball League season, the third-placed Lady Gators are producing their best performances in the lead-up to finals.

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