Altona Gators were staring down the barrel of an embarrassing loss to the 0-16 North East Bushrangers before a final quarter blitz secured a come-from-behind 71-65 win in the Big V basketball men’s division 2 at the Altona Sports Centre on Sunday.
Trailing by six points at three quarter-time, the Gators went on a 22-10 fourth-quarter run to claim a win that keeps their season alive.
Gators coach Des Radoslovic had faith his team would eventually run down the gallant Bushrangers.
“We were quietly confident all along,” he said. “The lead never got beyond 10, so it was always fairly close.
“I did trust our guys in the fourth quarter that they’d be able to execute and defend very well.”
It was a vastly different looking Altona team with young point guard Nathanael Coory out for the remainder of the regular season.
Despite his inexperience, teenager Coory was the pulse of the Gators, setting up most of the team’s plays from the point.
Coory informed the Gators he would be travelling to the US to play games that will effectively be tryouts for division 1 colleges.
Coory’s absence is a big blow for the Gators, but Radoslovic is proud of what Coory had achieved with the team this season and is excited for the youngster to be given the opportunity to show his skills in front of college scouts.
“He’s got to think about what’s best for his future,” Radoslovic said.
“If we scrape into the finals, he’d be back for that, but he’s out for the last four rounds.
“He’s got some division 1 colleges over there that are interested in him.
“He’s going to play in an AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] circuit around Atlanta.
“All the teams that are looking at him, their coaching staffs are going to be there, so that’s exciting for him.”
With Coory gone and back-up point guard Rasmus Wurr still overseas, Altona’s style of play changed dramatically.
The Gators had James Al-mourani and Jordan Lino running the point, but with more of an emphasis to move the ball inside the paint and let the bigs go to work.
“We had to change our tack a little bit and change our plans,” Radoslovic said.
“We really pounded the ball on the inside, slowed it down and really had to defend well.
“We got the job done.”
The major beneficiary for Altona was Tommy Scott who was a menace, finishing with 25 points, six rebounds and three threes.
“We used Tommy in a slightly different role because we need to find offence from other avenues and he had a great game,” Radoslovic said. “He got a lot of inside looks and if he didn’t score, he drew a foul.
“It was a credit to Lino and Al-mourani to get us into those sets to be able to get him the ball.
“They controlled the flow and the tempo, while Tom put the finishing touches to the plays we were running and had a great game.”
Centre James Till had a solid outing for Altona with 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists, while Tyson Burton and James Webster were a handful to contain on the inside.
Altona is still in the playoff hunt, three games outside the top six with five games remaining.
The Gators have another must-win game against Southern Peninsula Sharks at Altona Sports Centre on Sunday.