Shepparton Gators survive late rally to win by one point

By Aydin Payne

The Shepparton Gators survived a final quarter blow-up to record an exhilarating one-point success against the Sunbury Jets.

Things got hairy for Leigh Bathman and his troops in the fourth quarter of their Big V Division One round 15 clash against the ladder leader.

Up 14 points at the final break, the Gators allowed Sunbury to mount a last-minute attempt to steal victory from the home side.

Sunbury outscored the Gators 24-11 in the final term and gained the lead momentarily, but in stepped Shepparton’s star import.

Carlin Dupree calmly scored a lay-up inside the dying seconds of the game to deny the Jets.

That game-winning play was followed by two missed free throws at the other end and a frantic eight seconds of intentional fouling.

Sunbury had the ball in hand for the last shot, but Shepparton’s lockdown defence ended the Jets’ run of 11 straight wins.

‘‘We showed that we can compete against a proven quality side,’’ Bathman said.

‘‘We want a top three spot and hopefully (can) reward the fans with a home final.

‘‘But we still have plenty of improvement in the next remaining games.’’

Bathman highlighted the side’s poor ball use played a role in allowing Sunbury back in the game.

‘‘I thought we were nowhere near our best,’’ he said.

‘‘We turned the ball over far too many times in the fourth quarter.

‘‘We need to make sure we are more careful with the ball in hand.’’

Looking past the horror of the final term, it was still a superb night for the Gators.

Javaan Mumtaz (24 points) was a standout, while Dupree (23) and Jaxson Macfarlane (12) were solid contributors.

Shepparton kept Sunbury’s import Ismael Sanders, who averages 27.5 points per game, to two points at the half, highlighting the Gators’ immense defensive effort.

But Bathman saved his praise for two of the side’s role players — Nathan Grace and Tyrone Mohamed.

‘‘Tyrone and Nathan made crucial shots in the game,’’ he said.

‘‘I thought them coming on and being able to knock down important shots was huge for us.

‘‘And defensively we did a great job of limiting Sanders to two points.’’

The Gators will be back at the Swamp (Shepparton Sports Stadium) on Saturday night and on the road for Sunday’s game.