Sport

Gators go down in opening game of semi-final series

By Aydin Payne

SCORES

Sunbury Jets 94 d

Shepparton Gators 86

The Shepparton Gators have suffered a disappointing eight-point defeat in the opening game of its semi-final series against Sunbury at the weekend.

Having led by 10 points at half-time, Shepparton coughed up 57 points in the second half to lose game one at Sunbury's Boardman Stadium.

Saturday night's result now leaves Leigh Bathman's side needing to win the remaining games in the three-game series.

Luckily for the Gators though, game two and three will be played at Shepparton Sports Stadium this weekend.

The 94-86 result was the Gators' first loss of the season against the Jets, with Bathman shining the spotlight on his side's poor second half performance.

"We were too poor defensively and offensively after half-time," Bathman said.

"To give up almost 60 points in one half, you're not going to win too many games of basketball.

"And offensively we were down, we gave up turnovers at really crucial moments of the game and lacked positive ball movement.

"But a positive is that we can play much better, we know we can."

Shepparton also recorded six more personal fouls than Sunbury, with Bathman revealing the impact the foul trouble made on his side.

"I thought the foul calls impacted us severely," he said.

"It really impacted our opposition match-ups.

"Ishmael Sanders got away from us due to Carlin (Dupree) spending time on the bench with foul trouble.

"It was a major influence on our performance too."

Star players Dupree and Atem Atem recorded nine personal fouls between them, which limited the playing time of the duo.

Dupree's absence meant Sanders (33 points) was able to break the shackles and score freely.

But despite their lack of game time, Dupree was able to score 25 points at 57 per cent from the floor.

Atem had a strong outing, with the versatile forward registering 26 points and seven rebounds.

Role player Jaxson Macfarlane played important minutes off the bench, scoring nine points and grabbing three offensive rebounds.

Bathman gave praise to Macfarlane and Dupree and he revealed big man Gabe Evans hit the floor in a limited role as he battles an ongoing foot injury.

"Jaxson did a great job in a larger role for us," he said.

"And Carlin was influential when he was out on the floor.

"We got some minutes into Gabe which was pleasing, hopefully we can see him play next weekend."

The Gators are back at the Swamp for the remaining games in the series on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.