The Jayco Division 1 Stingrays Men are sitting pretty in their Big V conference in 2021 as we take what could possibly be an extended hiatus from Big V until after the long weekend. With an 8 and 4 record and a 4-game buffer on 7th placed Shepparton, the Rays are pushing to put themselves in finals contention for the first time since the Championship men side fell to the Ringwood Hawks in 2016.
To start the season the Rays were red hot, after dropping a tough game 1 of the season, a 7-game win-streak would see them tear through everyone that stood in their way. Standout games against Warrandyte and Warrnambool showed the defensive ability of this team. Holding Warrandyte to just 48 points, and two weeks later travelling to Warrnambool and taking a 41-point win in which the Seahawks were held to just 53 points.
As happens to all teams during a long season, a lull came and the sense of urgency dropped for the Rays, this ultimately saw them drop 3 in a row to finals contending teams in Bellarine, Camberwell, and Bulleen. Each loss was tough, early leads to the opposition against Camberwell and Bulleen was too much for the Rays to overcome, leading to the losses.
Prior to the season stoppage the men got back on track. A tough Southern Pen team came out firing, but the Rays were able to erase the deficit, and come away 8-point winners. This win was a great stabiliser and promoted confidence within the team that they can get back to their winning best.
With 8 rounds to go and the possibility of makeup games pushing the schedule to include more back to backs, each team will need to lean upon its depth to keep their playoff hopes alive. Luckily for Paul Hutchison and the Stingrays, lack of depth is no issue in what could be one of, if not the deepest team in the competition.
An extremely even scoring load sees no one player even need to go out of their way to put the team on their back. As of current Michael Rebula is leading the team in scoring with just under 16ppg. While also leading the way on the boards with 7.5rpg. However, with Cohen Blythe, Max Kos, Lewis Beks and Lachie Headlam each putting up between 8-13ppg the lethal offence of the Rays is on full display when ball gets moved quickly, something most teams have not been able to combat at all.
It’s been 5 years since the Stingrays reached the postseason, and 6 years since the team tasted the success of winning it all. While nothing is guaranteed, the team Paul Hutchison and Shayne Bow have put on the floor is undoubtedly one of the most experienced and lethal in the competition. With multiple NBL1, SEABL and Big V Championship experience with 100s of individual games played, this team is poised to make deep finals run which will hopefully end in a Championship.
You can check out all the action on our Division 1 Men’s and other Big V teams at our socials @Geelongunitedbasketball, or at our website, www.geelongunitedbasketball.com.au