Sport

Teams converge on Shepparton for basketball tournament

By Shepparton News

Shepparton will become home to more than 2000 junior basketball players as part of the 43rd annual Greater Shepparton Basketball Tournament beginning today.

The event will host 195 teams that, although smaller than last year’s tournament, remains close to last year’s entries.

While last year’s 206 teams were a welcome addition to the tournament, this year it seems the Greater Shepparton Basketball Association has found its ‘‘Goldilocks’’ tournament — not too large and not too small.

The event will be spread out across Greater Shepparton at 19 courts in 13 different venues.

Greater Shepparton Basketball Association general manager Stacey Cole has high hopes for the Shepparton Gators sides at the tournament and thinks they will thrive with a home court advantage.

The Gators’ junior teams have spent the past three months preparing in tournaments at Wangaratta, Swan Hill, Echuca, Geelong and the Southern Peninsula, which means they should be ready for anything the tournament throws at them.

Cole has especially high hopes for the under-16 and under-18 men and women’s teams.

Even after the Shepparton tournament, the season has much to offer, with the Bendigo tournament during next month’s Australia Day weekend and the Wodonga tournament in February.

To cap off the summer season, players will be competing in the statewide Victorian Country Championships during March and April.

Shepparton’s under-14 side will stay in the region for the Country Championships, while the other teams will be travelling to Bendigo.

‘‘Bendigo is always good, all the families look forward to going,’’ Cole said.

Ultimately, Cole hoped Shepparton tournament would be an entertaining way for all the teams to practise for the all-important Country Championships.

Shepparton players will be looking to beat their opposition and the summer heat today as they play in their last tournament for the year.

Cole simply hoped their air-conditioning was up for the challenge.

James Dowling is a Year 11 student on work experience at the News.