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Seymour basketballers snag a win at ‘The Jungle’

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Jordyn Grubisic
Jordyn Grubisic
Jordyn Grubisic is a senior journalist for the North Central Review primarily covering politics at all levels and sport with a particular interest in basketball. Since 2019 she has worked for several publications across Victoria including most recently at the Alexandra Standard and Yea Chronicle. She is always keen to hear from local community members about issues they face and has an interest in crime and court reporting.

A deafening roar greeted Seymour men during the Country Basketball League Mitchell Shire clash at Wallan on Saturday evening, with the Blasters returning up the Hume Freeway with the win.

Full stands of cheering supporters and fans sitting along the baseline smacking pool noodles on the hardwood floor matched the high energy on court from the moment warm-ups began.

Seymour didn’t miss from the three-point line in the opening quarter, shooting with incredible accuracy.

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Down the other end, an impressive ‘ankle-breaker’ – a dribbling move with the ball that causes a defender to either lose balance or fall to the court – with a three-pointer finish by Wallan sent the Panthers crowd wild.

Wallan’s Dylan Lombardo drives to the basket against some solid defence from Seymour’s Robbie Sartori. ​

The move helped create momentum but the Blasters’ strong shooting had them leading at the end of the quarter, 23 to 19.

Wallan found its range in the second quarter, sinking three-pointers to bring the game to within two points and prompting a Seymour timeout.

Damon Anderson’s three-pointer put the Panthers ahead for the first time with just over three minutes remaining in the quarter.

The scoreboard continued seesawing before Wallan secured a five-point lead heading into halftime.

Seymour’s Eden Hobbs lifted in the third quarter and was a huge asset on court at both ends, securing rebounds and making crucial baskets.

Seymour’s Zac Donoghue beats defender Luke Cairns to the basket. ​

Blasters captain Jack Murphy led from the front with two clutch three-pointers bringing the visitors within two points, before a steal and layup finish by Hobbs tied the game.

The physicality amped up the third quarter with some hard fouls and bodies hitting the floor.

The scoreboard continued changing the lead with every basket critical to the result as spectators became louder, matching the passion and intensity on court.

A free-throw from Murphy tied the game before Hobbs scored another steal and finished with a reverse layup to put the Blasters ahead once again before the quarter ended. Seymour led 67 to 65 at three-quarter time.

Tensions continued rising on court in the final quarter with words exchanged between players, fouls getting harder and the umpires chiming in – the neighborhood rivalry was alive and obvious.

With just under five minutes remaining, Wallan’s Lachlan Lombardo was carried off with an injury before a hard foul on Wallan’s Luke Liesegang further escalated tension.

The Blasters got their fifth team foul with just over two minutes remaining and with the game so close, every movecounted.

A foul by Seymour’s William Stewart sent Wallan’s Luke Cairns to the free throw line, where he made both, and put the home side back within reach.

But the Blasters hung on, winning 87 to 83.

Murphy was leading scorer for the match with 25 points followed by Hobbs with 21.

Keenan Gorski was reliable at both ends of the court for the Blasters, playing intense defence while lighting up the offensive end with his jump-shot accuracy.

Liesegang was a strong presence under the ring for the Panthers with 15 points, while Ryan Philippe had 14.

Murphy said the win came for an undermanned Blasters side.

“We went into the clash undermanned, missing four of our key guys through injury, so we were willing to rotate quickly through the bench to keep some fresh legs,” he said.

“Coming in as underdogs and losing a few of our guys before the tip-off wasn’t ideal, but we shuffled our offence around to try find some more score power.

“Eden [Hobbs] and Wally [Stewart] were fantastic on the night, both contributing on both ends of the floor.

“We were rapt to see Wally get his chance and make it count.”

Murphy said blocking out the noise of the crowd was a huge focus.

“We knew there would be a little bit of extra carry-on throughout the match,” he said.

“We made a big focus of zoning out their crowd. They pack out the stadium and make it really difficult for opposition sides.

“Credit to their supporters for showing out in great numbers to create a hostile environment.

“We have three home games in a row to finish, which is awesome. We have only played two games at home this season so to get some games in front of our own fans will be nice.”

It’s a double-header weekend for both sides, with Seymour hosting Shepparton on Saturday and Mansfield on Sunday at home.

Meanwhile, Wallan will host Wodonga on Saturday before the Panthers head to Myrtleford on Sunday.

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