A final quarter fade-out from the Seymour Blasters has likely hurt their chances of a top-two finish, after the Shepparton Gators romped home for a five-point win on Saturday night.
After building to a 10-point lead by half-time, Seymour looked in a strong position to reverse the three-point loss it suffered to the Gators back in November.
But although the side led at every change, Seymour coach Craig Hockley said it was likely not enough to keep Shepparton right out of the match.
“Our first half was okay but we weren’t scoring enough,” he said.
“We should have been more ahead. We missed a few lay-ups.
“A more comfortable lead, say 20 points, would have put the pressure on Shepparton.
“But they were able to hang around and make some shots.”
Hockley said silly mistakes then lead to a change in momentum late in the third quarter which proved hard to get back as the game went down to the wire.
“It was just silly mistakes with some offensive stuff and our defence pressure was really poor,” the coach said.
“It was hard to get that momentum back, and we were then bombing three-ups instead of getting to the paint.”
Making life hard for the Blasters was Shepparton’s Jordan Michel, who finished with 30 points for the night, with 14 of those coming in the last quarter.
Heading into round 12, the Blasters will travel to Myrtleford this Saturday night for a round 10 rematch against the Saints.
Looking likely to be another close one, after the Blasters edged out the Saints by two points just before Christmas, the match looms crucial to who remains in finals contentions ahead of the final home-and-away round.
“This (latest) loss really hurt us and probably loses us second,” Hockley said.
“Next week is going to be tough. It’s do or die, really.”
Final score: Seymour Blasters 63 def by Shepparton Gators 68
Top scorers: Jack Murphy 16, Tom O’Connor 15