You can’t keep Seymour’s beloved CBL star Robbie Sartori off the court.
Seymour took the points in a thrilling 76-65 season-opener against Wallan and the Blasters were all the better for having Sartori patrolling on defence and running the play when the game was there to be won.
Tempo was hard-earned and easily lost in the Round 1 showdown between the rivals. Wallan young star Ryan Philippe (25 points) rocked the basket and drained some effortless treys to put the Panthers ahead early on. Coupled with the reliable presence of Max Viitala (13 points), the Panthers were in a pretty solid spot.
But it’s hard to discount the might of Seymour. With a few too many weapons across the floor, the clamps went on Wallan’s fast-flowing offence and kept the ball from zipping up and down the court. The cooler heads were in control as the likes of Sartori (eight points and the rebound-king Tom O’Connor (nine points) kept the screws on while Abraham Solano (15 points), Keenan Gorski (13 points) and Jordan Hockley (12 points) stole the show.
“It was always going to be tough – Wallan in Wallan is always a tough gig and nothing was different tonight,” Sartori said. “They’re big they’re strong, they’re experienced and we have a bit of a new team this year – a few mainstays but we’ve added a few pieces as well and they’re going to be tough.”
He can’t say no to lacing up the sneakers each summer; it’s been a part of his life for a long time to date and he hopes to keep it going as long as there’s get-up-and-go in the legs.
Sartori’s story is common across the CBL and we’re lucky to have players of his calibre come back to the competition each and every year. Whether it’s the senior stars returning from the city to do what’s best for their association or the up-and-comers making a mark before they take off for senior representative duties across Victoria and beyond… people want to play for their team.
After two years of way too many twists and turns, the CBL and donning the red and black jersey of the Blasters is where Sartori feels at ease.
He ummed and arred about returning for season 2021/22 after potentially bowing out following last season’s championship victory, but for Sartori it’s always been about Seymour. He’s loved every second of it – from his starting days with the side all the way through to being the calm and collected veteran, you just can’t keep away from the game.
There’s just too much fun to be had in representing his home side.
“There’s a long history at our club and I’m proud to be part of it – not sure how many years I have left,” Sartori said. “After last year’s championship there was a questions I had to ask myself- but at the end of the day I love the game, I love the group and I love the club and winning is great, but it’s the culture and the camaraderie of the group that keeps me coming back - we’ve got that in droves and we expressed it pretty well tonight.”
All the while Sartori talked proudly about his beloved Seymour, a couple of fascinated 18-month olds – his twin daughters Isabelle and Isla – playfully poked and prodded at a microphone while their mum Karla tried to keep them distracted long enough for dad to get two words in.
It’s a wholesome visual and after the last two years we’ve had across the state, these sorts of special moments and welcome distractions are much needed for everyone across the basketball community. But it all starts up once again and lifers like Sartori will ensure that even after the darkest of times for our state, there are always players who will turn out in force for their team in the next season of the Country Basketball League.
The Blasters now face Mansfield at home on Saturday night.
In other North East Men’s results, Benalla knocked over Wangaratta 80-70, Wangaratta defeated Mansfield 70-35 and Wodonga defeated Myrtleford 71-53.
NORTH EAST WOMEN
Taking their time to get up to temperature, Wallan had a slow start against Seymour, but took the 65-53 win after some superb shooting down the stretch. While Dyani Ananiev (16 points) and Leah Swain (13 points) toiled at both ends for the Blasters, they could not muzzle the likes of Carley Cranston (15 points) and Kaitlyn Wakartschuk (14 points).
Myrtleford knocked off Wodonga 59-55 in a thriller on the border. Tara Breen (19 points) and Abbey Zamperoni (12 points) led all comers for the Saints while Jade McCown (13 points), Amelia Hassett (11 points) and Caitlin Reid (11 points) shone for the Wolves.
Warragul and Korumburra rained on Wonthaggi’s opening round with the Coasters taking a pair of losses to tip off their debut CBL campaign. Warragul claimed the 95-64 win over Wonthaggi with Jordan Gookier (20 points) and Jarryd Moss (19 points) starring for the Warriors while Jenson Garnham (26 points) was almighty for the Coasters. Backing up in their home debut, Wonthaggi was unable to best the Wildcats in a 71-86 defeat. Vin Monaghan (24 points) and Lachlan Thomas (14 points) had a superb time on Sunday while Jett Garnham (24 points) kept the Garnhams up the top of the scoring.
Warragul continued its winnings ways on Sunday with a 67-75 win over Moe. Jarryd Moss (20 points) led the way once more while the Van Dyks Ben (18 points) and Jayden (17 points) shone for the Meteors.
The reigning champions Maffra tipped off on Saturday night with an impressive 86-73 home victory over Sale. Sam Whelan (30 points) and Andrew Quirk (18 points) had a field day for the Eagles while Harper Fraser (21 points) had an exceptional weekend for
Churchill shone against Sale in a 105-67 win led by Jordan Canovan (37 points) and Ryan Canovan (15 points). Harper Fraser (17 points) and Ben Dessent (14 points) toiled for the visitors in the defeat.
Traralgon made light work of Lakes Entrance in a 121-39 victory driven by Luis D’Angelo (22 points) and Kody Tibballs (16 points) while Jordi Williams (10 points) led the way for the Pelicans.
Sale vs Maffra. Old rivals. Storied history. Now with fresh faces. The latest generation of Eagles and Sonics went at it, but in the end Sale’s state representatives got the leg up on Maffra 74-66. The likes of Sienna Wynd (20 points) and Ash Centra (19 points) led the charge for the Sonics while Maffra’s Tayler Hardman (25 points) led the conference for the Gippsland Women in a gallant performance.
Grace McRae (24 points) shone for Wonthaggi, but in the end the efforts of Korumburra was too much for the Coasters to handle in a 57-75 defeat.
Traralgon started its return to the league impressively with big wins over Lakes Entrance 89-25 and Sale 71-33.
NORTH WEST MEN
William Hynes (24 points) had a field day in Maryborough’s home-court 78-69 triump over Bacchus Marsh to tip off the 2021/2022 CBL season. Blake Allison (18 points) and Zak Martinez (13 points) started strongly for the Lions, but the Blazers fired up through Hynes shooting the lights out alongside Brady Neill (13 points) and Lachlan Drummond (13 points).
Bendigo defeated Mildura at home 79-58 to start its championship defence in style. In a brutal weekend for the Tigers, Swan Hill delivered an 85-36 defeat on Saturday at home before they travelled down the road for Castlemaine to knock over Kyneton 90-52 on Sunday. Castlemaine’s Saturday wasn’t quite as successful though with the 48-65 defeat at the hands of Echuca.
NORTH WEST WOMEN
Kyneton claimed a thrilling buzzer beater winner over Swan Hill 69-68. Castlemaine had a winning weekend with a pair of triumphs – 73-53 over Echuca on Saturday before backing up to defend home territory again with a 69-57 victory over Kyneton. Maryborough stormed past Bacchus Marsh 77-49 and Bendigo defeated Mildura 67-57.
SOUTH WEST MEN
Portland took a pair of wins from its opening weekend – besting Mt Gambier 70-68 and Warrnambool 80-54. Colac also took the points in a pair of clashes as it just edged Terang 76-75 and Mt Gambier 68-59. Terang bounced back to take a 68-59 win over Mt Gambier. Surfcoast’s debut in the South West Men resulted in a narrow loss to Warrnambool 64-73.
SOUTH WEST WOMEN
Mt Gambier’s return to the CBL was greeted with a closely contested clash against Portland as the Lakers snuck back across the border with a 59-54 victory.
Surfcoast squared off against the might of Warrnambool in round 1 with a lopsided 35-105 result the takeaway from week one. Mt Gambier defeated Terang 102-46, Horsham bested Terang 102-50 and Warrambool made it a clean sweep for the weeked with a 78-50 win over Portland.