A VINTAGE Tim Gainey performance proved the catalyst in Warrnambool Seahawks' 13-point win against Geelong Supercats on Saturday night.
The former coach started with a bang, dropping three of his six three-pointers in the opening two minutes on his way to 24 first-half points at the Arc.
Gainey, who finished with a game-high 33 points, complemented his long-range shooting with a fast-break slam dunk in the third term.
Warrnambool's 87-74 win improved its Big V division one win/loss ledger to 3-1 ahead of a two-week break before a long road trip to Mildura.
Seahawks coach Bobby Cunningham said Gainey was influential and gave his teammates confidence.
"He was the match-winner. That was vintage 2006 Tim Gainey when we first got him here," he said.
"That is part of the plan, I can take the pressure off of him with the coaching side of things and he can go out there and just play basketball and that's what he done."
The Seahawks built a six-point lead at half time after scores were tied at 25-all at the first break.
Warrnambool's team defence was integral in a big final term for the home side after the margin was cut to three points at the final change.
The Seahawks, with big men Liam Killey and Simon O'Keefe fouled out, got an early jump when American debutant Sai'Quon Stone dropped a three-pointer.
But the Supercats crept to within a point with six minutes to play before the Seahawks found another gear, bolting away.
Teenage guard Josh Dean grabbed an important mid-court steal which resulted in two Justin Wallace free throws and a 71-64 advantage.
Stone, who worked his way into the contest after a slow start, then drove to the basket and was fouled.
His three-point play, which he celebrated with some showmanship towards the crowd, gave Warrnambool a 10-point buffer.
James Mitchell iced the win with two three-pointers late in the contest.
Cunningham said it was a important victory for the Seahawks.
"It is good because we have two weeks off now and if we lost this game, you'd be thinking about it and stewing on and playing the game over and over again and be mentally fried," he said.
Cunningham said Warrnambool played smart basketball in the final term.
"We thought 'oh boy, we're in a bit of trouble' because we had two of our bigs fouled out and we thought they'd go inside more than they did," he said.
"We were up by six or seven points which meant they had to fire up from outside and when they shot and missed we fired up down the other end, which was good."
Stone, who missed the first three games with immigration department issues, finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.
The guard was sluggish early and will be better for the match fitness.
"He showed glimpses. He hit a few from outside and hit a few of his free throws and got to the basket," Cunningham said.
"He is deceptively quick, he's six foot five, 240 pounds and once he gets his hips by you it's hard for you to get back in front.
"Now with a little bit of time off he's going to have to get in the gym.
"It's just a shame he plays his first game and is feeling good and now he has to wait two weeks to go again.
"Sai'Quon was fried. I just knew that if I took him out when I should have he would give me that look of 'what are you doing' and it's about him playing into shape as well so we left him out there."
Cunningham said Stone, who created space for Gainey to score, would take time to adjust to the Big V game style.
"Trying to get Sai'Quon to get used to how we play basketball over here because it is different," he said.
"Yeah they're athletic in American, they run and jump and they're physical.
"But it is a different physical here, it's almost the old school physical like the back-in-the-day New York Knicks."
Cunningham was thrilled with the Seahawks' evenness.
"Simon (O'Keefe) didn't really score the ball but he was a formidable opponent," he said.
"I thought he got some rough calls called against him but then he had some calls that weren't called against him, so I guess we have to live and die by the referee calls." The Seahawks will train strongly in the lead-up to their April 26 road trip to Mildura.
"I think all of us have to get in the gym. We'll have a run around on Saturday as well and maybe have a scrimmage against each other," he said.
"And then maybe get out to the local footy and support some of our local clubs."