In round six of the Country Basketball League – North East Conference, the Maryborough Supa IGA Blazers travelled to Shepparton to take on the Gators.
The Supa IGA Blazers made the trip with only seven players because of injury and other commitments.
With both teams setting their sights on finals this was a vital clash.
Maryborough jumped the Gators in the opening minute and quickly opened up a four point lead.
Shepparton rallied though and after a 10-0 run, the home team ended the first quarter with a three point lead.
Maryborough was physically stronger then the Gators and looked to exploit this, with Matt Johnston working hard inside.
Guards Trav Cornwill, Trent Piera and Lachlan McDonald worked hard on defence and this opened up easy points.
Piera, Cornwill and Johnston each did a great job of controlling Shepparton’s star Matt Bartlett, restricting him to just 10 points.
After even second and third quarters, Maryborough came out firing in the last.
Quick steals and some three pointers from Johnston and Jayden Bott opened the game up.
With a number of players in foul trouble for both teams, the experienced players of the Blazers took control of the game, slowing it down and using up time.
Maryborough’s defence was outstanding in the last quarter, restricting the Gators to just 10 points, of which six came from foul shots.
Shepparton’s youngsters continued to work hard but Maryborough maintained control of the game.
In the end, the Blazers proved too physically strong and ran out 14 point winners, 71-57.
Johnston ended with a game high 31 points while Piera was good again with 19.
With the victory, Maryborough is now well and truly in the hunt for finals.
Road wins against Wodonga and Shepparton allow the Supa IGA Blazers some breathing space in the top four. They currently sit third on the North East Conference ladder.
Maryborough take on the Echuca Pirates at home tomorrow night in another very winnable game.
The Pirates are back in the League after a season off and have so far struggled, only picking up one win.
The Supa IGA Blazers will again look to Johnston and Piera for the bulk of its scoring. The side will rely heavily on Cornwill, McDonald and Pete Egan to continue their fantastic defensive work.
Everyone is invited along to watch with tip-off set for 7 pm in what should be an exciting game for the Supa IGA Blazers.