Shepparton Gators jump into top-spot with win

By Aydin Payne

Shepparton has continued its stellar start to the Big V division one season with a dominant display on the road against Sunbury Jets.

The Gators claimed their fourth consecutive win of the season with an 87-64 victory against the Jets at Boardman Stadium on Saturday night — lifting them into first position on the ladder.

Boom recruit Carlin Dupree had a night out in his debut for the Gators, dropping 20 points, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing off five assists which accompanied his superb shooting numbers.

The point guard slotted into the starting line-up after his clearance went through six hours before tip-off, but the nervous wait did not affect the playmaker as he shot at 61 per cent from the field, with four long-range baskets the highlight.

Gators coach Leigh Bathman praised the performance from Dupree, highlighting the guard’s ability to impact both ends of the court.

‘‘He made an impact at both ends, with his ability to find teammates and being able to closely defend one of the Jets’ better players,’’ Bathman said.

‘‘He’s an exciting player, our tempo increased when he was on the court and I think he will be able to help grow a number of our players.’’

New Zealand guard Javaan Mumtaz suited up alongside Dupree in the backcourt, with Mumtaz managing 19 points and four steals as he continued his impressive season.

Atem Atem and Gabe Evans chipped in with 21 points and 12 rebounds between them, as they enjoyed the lack of height on the glass from the Sunbury line-up and Josh Evans nailed a three in his first minutes for the side.

‘‘We were more balanced overall, and I felt we grabbed advantage of the game with a great opening term,’’ Bathman said.

‘‘Our big guys controlled the boards, which has been a bit of a focus for us on the training court lately.’’

The Gators dominated the rebounds 45 to 32 and penetrated the paint as they looked to score heavily inside — registering 36 points from the paint.

But as Bathman applauded the early season form from his side, he said they could not become complacent yet.

‘‘To start the season with four straight victories is terrific, without getting too far ahead of ourselves, the future is looking promising,’’ he said.

‘‘We still have plenty to improve, we won’t be happy to relax and stay at this level for the remainder of the year — we need to try and be the best we possibly can be.

‘‘Our team chemistry still has room to grow and our breakdowns on the offensive end needs improvement.

‘‘If we can get through to Easter with no injuries and remain undefeated, it puts us in a really good position for the rest of the season.’’

The Gators will host the Melbourne University Black Angels at Shepparton Sports Stadium on Saturday with tip-off at 7.30pm.