Just like that, the Shepparton Gators’ season is over.
Undefeated through large parts of their campaign, the Gators slipped up last week against Seymour and could not get back on track in Saturday’s knockout semi-final, falling by three points to Wodonga Wolves.
In a massive upset, the 8-4 Wolves were too good for the 11-1 Gators on enemy territory at Shepparton Sports Stadium.
Coach Josh Waight could hardly believe his side’s season had come crashing down.
‘‘It’s really disappointing and it wasn’t the result we wanted as a group,’’ he said.
‘‘It just wasn’t our night. They shot the ball really well, things didn’t go our way and in the end we weren’t good enough.
‘‘We didn’t shoot well enough and there were patches where we couldn’t score.
‘‘But we weren’t good enough defensively and second-chance points for them really hurt.’’
The Gators looked strong early, with a stellar second quarter putting the side ahead at half-time with a 10-point advantage.
Gabe Evans and Nick Dodd combined for 11 points in the quarter, but the team’s defence lifted in a big way, only allowing Wodonga seven points.
But that was where their season seemingly went up in flames.
The Wolves caught fire and swung the 10-point deficit to a six-point lead at the end of the third term.
They allowed just nine points for the term and got nine points each from Ben Coates and Mitchell Donovan.
‘‘They came out firing, and they really crashed the boards when we weren’t good enough boxing out and finding a body,’’ Waight said.
‘‘They really rode their momentum and swung the game dramatically.’’
With his side in trouble, Evans took the game into his own hands with nine straight points to start the final period to cut the margin to three before Dodd tied the game.
But Coates answered with two field goals of his own and the Wolves would not sacrifice the lead from there, running out 74-71 winners.
‘‘We definitely had chances to tie the game, but they played really good defence and forced us to take tough shots,’’ Waight said.
‘‘At the other end they were able to hit those big shots.’’
Evans finished with a game-high 30 points and Dodd had 17, while Coates led the Wolves with 23.
Summing up his side’s season, Waight said it had been stellar — until it wasn’t.
‘‘It was a fantastic season, but it’s just the way it works; if you don’t show up for one game, your season can be over,’’ he said.
‘‘It doesn’t matter if you’re 12-0 or whatever record you have, we weren’t good enough and unfortunately that’s how it ends, it’s pretty cutthroat.’’