By JARROD POTTER
TWO games clear atop the Big V ladder, the Pakenham Warriors first-quarter barrage was enough to break the spirits of the visiting Shepparton Gators – as Pakenham rose to a 60-43 win.
Backing up for another first-versus-second clash in the Big V Division 2 Men’s competition, Pakenham exploded out of the gate in the first term.
Shots rained from the sky as all the regulars got in on the scoring and stealing – forcing eight turnovers from Shepparton to go along with 11 rebounds off the defensive boards.
At one stage an 18-3 buffer was created, before it eventually turned into 23-5 at the first break.
The Gators fought their way back into the contest throughout the second term, but their turnovers once again proved detrimental.
Resting and rotating his roster against the undermanned Gators, Pakenham coach Ryan Rogers sent in his bench to get them some desperately needed game-time and gained solid contributions from man-mountain Charlie Taualii (six points) and Jed Bentley (three points, five rebounds).
Jimmy Magrath was awesome off the boards, creating two massive blocks, but will want to forget this game for his eight turnovers.
It will be a match remembered only for the first term as Pakenham slipped in the remaining three to score 37 at 34.1 per cent.
An embarrassing mix-up, with a referee showing up an hour late for the 6pm scheduled match, coach Rogers said it summed up the feel of the night, with no Warrior particularly hitting top-gear.
“I think it was just a case of how the night turned out in general,” Rogers said.
“The long lay-off was far from ideal, but I was rapt that the guys came out strongly to start.
“I was happy to get it over and done with to be honest.
“It was hard with that sort of start to keep the guys motivated and mentally still on task.”
The usual suspects were impressive as Jay Ferriere (seven points, 11 rebounds, seven assists) moved towards triple-double territory off only 23.18 minutes, star tall James Topp (14 points, eight rebounds) and the long-bomber Jeff Reid (14 points, four rebounds) all made sizeable contributions.
With top spot, the best winning streak in Big V Division 2 and their generals Topp and Ferriere leading the league for points and assists respectively, there remain few remnants of the 2012 side that went 2-18.
Below the Warriors, the remainder of the ladder has become a logjam as second through seventh are separated only by a game.
Pakenham travels to last-place Maccabi on Sunday afternoon in the Warriors versus Warriors battle.