Seymour Blasters men’s team continued their incredible record of success in the Country Basketball League with another grand final win.

By Colin MacGillivray

SEYMOUR capped off a stellar season in the Country Basketball League men’s north-east division on Saturday, downing Benalla Breakers in a hard-fought game to claim a ninth title in 19 years.

The Blasters were the team to beat all season, losing only one of their 10 matches in a truncated home-and-away campaign and finishing comfortably on top of the ladder.

But despite triumphing easily over the Breakers in both regular-season meetings between the sides, Seymour coach Craig Hockley knew the grand final would be different.

Playing at Wallan’s RB Robson Stadium, both teams struggled to score early, with Seymour grabbing an early advantage thanks to the size advantage of centre Tom O’Connor and strong drives to the basket by the likes of Tyler Best, while forward Keenan Gorski showed nice shooting touch from midrange.

A seven-point quarter-time advantage was encouraging for Seymour, but Benalla refused to lie down.

The Breakers came steaming back in the second term, with livewire guard Eric Miraflores and forward Sam Beks leading the charge.

The battle between Miraflores – who was named the conferencemost valuable player after the match – and Seymour captain Robbie Sartori was an engrossing one, with Sartori playing physical defense and hounding the agile Miraflores.

Benalla made more headway in the third term, cutting the margin to four at the final break.

The teams traded baskets in a tense final quarter, with Benalla threatening to take the lead but never managing to get its nose in front.

With less than two minutes to go Blaster Jordan Hockley hit a huge step-back three-pointer to extend Seymour’s lead to eight points, and after Benalla’s Lachlan Kego missed a wide-open dunk at the other end, Hockley scored another quick two on the fast break, all but ending the game.

The players embraced as the final buzzer rang on a 66-54 win, delivering Seymour back-to-back men’s championships.

Seymour guard Jordan Hockley takes the ball to the hoop against the Benalla Breakers.

Blasters coach Craig Hockley praised his players after the win, saying their hard-nosed defensive effort set the tone.

“Both teams defensively did great jobs. Our guys stuck tough all the way through and in the end I think we had a bit more composure and a bit more height on the floor that brought the game back our way,” he said.

Hockley said Sartori’s battle with Miraflores was fun to watch.

“You see a game like that during the year and sometimes the refs will call a lot of stuff, but they let that go, which was good,” he said.

“They were going at each other, and that’s what you want. People like watching a battle like that.

“Our aim is to keep teams under 60 points. We did it again and we came away with another win, which was great.”

Keenan Gorski was named grand final most valuable player, showcasing his ability to score from all levels with a team-high 18 points.

“He gives you a bit of X-factor. He’s got a bit of length and he’s got a nice shot from outside, which makes it tough to guard him,” Hockley said.

“When we had him, Tommy [O’Connor] and Tyler [Best] on the floor in the last five minutes, they couldn’t really match up with the three of them.”

Hockley said Seymour would continue to strive to set a standard for the rest of the division.

“This is the club’s 19th season of CBL and it’s the 19th season we’ve played finals. This is our 13th grand final and we’ve won nine flags,” he said.

“For a town of our size, I’d say it’s a pretty enormous effort for the club and everyone who contributes to it.”