By Jackson Russell

WHITTLESEA Pacers’ men started off the new Big V Division One basketball season with a 93-79 loss to Shepparton Gators at home on Saturday night.

Whittlesea led just once in the game midway through the first period, before Shepparton went on a 10-2 run to lead by eight.

A 28-18 second quarter stretched the lead to 21 at the half and Shepparton carried its momentum through the half-time break with a 27-19 third period giving the Gators a 79-53 lead at three-quarter time.

The Pacers stuck with it and ate into the lead in the fourth, but it was too much.

Judson Seumanu led the Pacers with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists while new import Hakeem Simon had 11 points and five rebounds.

Jayce Beasley also chipped in with 14 points and eight rebounds.

Whittlesea’s shooting let them down, going 28-81 (.346) from the field and 7-20 (.350) from three-point range.

Coach Brian Vaughns said his side was out of sync after Simon only started training with the team on Thursday.

“Implementing Hakeem into our scheme on two days’ notice, we were out of sync for most of the game,” he said.

“Guys were trying to figure out how best to play with him and get that continuity. As a coach, I was trying to figure out the best way to get him involved.

“For the moist part, I was pleased with what we were able to accomplish even though we didn’t shoot the ball well. Shepparton shot the ball well, they got a lot of good looks and hit a lot of open perimeter shots.

“We were down 30 at one point and managed to get that back to 14. They didn’t take their foot off the pedal, so for us to come back was a good sign.”