Altona Gators ran out of manpower and fell short of an upset road win over Mildura Heat in the Big V men’s division 2 basketball.
The Gators went down 97-94 in a gut-wrenching loss to the heavily favoured Heat at the Toyota Hothouse on Saturday night.
The fouling out of key players Jovan Bojanic and Maverick Clissold down the stretch severely hindered the Gators’ chances.
Clissold had been assigned the task of nullifying Mildura’s reigning league MVP, Calvin Henry, and did a good job until he was charged with a fifth foul that ruled him out for the rest of the game.
Once Clissold went to the bench, Henry took over for Mildura and played a significant part in the game going the Heat’s way.
Gators coach Des Radoslovic rued how the game unfolded.
“We were up halfway through the last quarter and then Jovan got fouled off and Maverick, who was playing the defensive role on Calvin Henry, also got fouled off,” he said.
“It was a 50-50 game, scores level with a few minutes to go and they’ve got some quality players who pulled them over the line.”
But he was proud of the fight shown by Altona throughout.
He rates a full strength Mildura as the best team in the competition, but his players did not back down and made the Heat work hard for the win.
Indefatigable young point guard Nate Coory was outstanding for Altona.
Coory played the full 40 minutes without going to the bench, finishing with 26 points, six assists and four rebounds.
“He shot 50 per cent from the field, had six assists and one turnover, so he really gave us a chance to win the game,” Radoslovic said.
“He’s got the young legs, he’s 18 and he’s starting to come good now after a few interruptions at the start of the season.”
James Webster regained his shooting touch, finishing with 18 points, including four-from-five from three-point land, and eight rebounds.
“He came back to his form of last season,” Radoslovic said. “Last season he was one of the better three-point shooters in the league.”
The rest of the scoring was evenly spread for Altona.
Clissold (13), Joey Mausar (12) and Jordan Lino (11) reached double figures.
Radoslovic was happy with how the Gators executed their offence.
But it was not enough as the Mildura big guns took over late, leaving the Altona Gators to lick their wounds over their second loss in a row.
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