Altona Gators saved their best till last, smashing the hapless Pakenham Warriors 77-47 at the Altona Sports Centre on Sunday, ending a difficult Big V basketball women’s division 2 season on a high note.
Gators’ coach Amanda Aldridge was proud her team stuck at it late in the season when injuries piled up, and motivation could have waned with finals off the radar.
“Winning in the last game and going out on a high was really good for the girls,” Aldridge said.
“They really had to push through the last few weeks after losing some key players due to injury, but they played right through and never once dropped their heads through the season.”
It was an emotional day for Altona as the Gators farewelled veterans Emma Coyne, Paige Lenferna and Naomi Robinson.
If not for this trio coming out of retirement, the Gators might not have even had a team this season.
But they wanted to help out former teammate Aldridge, who was appointed to kickstart the revival of the club’s women’s program.
It bought Aldridge an extra year to recruit, and gave the youth league players another season to develop.
Coyne, the Gators’ captain, wanted to play on, but a move away from the area has made it impossible.
“If she wasn’t moving to Mornington, she would’ve had another crack next year,” Aldridge said.
“Lenferna travelled from Geelong each week to play for the Gators. She wanted one last season with Coyne and Robinson before drawing the curtain on her career.
Robinson was the oldest player in the squad and a huge asset because of her work in the paint, so her impact will be sorely missed.
The Gators will have to turn over a new chapter next season, finishing the season in eighth place with a 4-14 record.
In men’s division 2, consecutive wins rounded out the Gators’ season, including a 105-82 thrashing of Mornington Breakers in the last game at Altona Sports Centre on Sunday.
The Gators had a 6-12 record on the season to finish in eighth place.