RETURNING Warrnambool Seahawk Xavier Johnson-Blount is already making his presence felt.
The Warrnambool Seahawks import drained a team-high 29 points in his much-anticipated Big V division one comeback on Saturday night, helping them to a crucial 75-72 win over Shepparton Gators at the Arc.
The result levelled their win-loss ledger to 4-4.
"We beat the first-placed team which is always good," coach Tim Gainey said.
"We are middle of the pack now which is good considering the injuries we've had and we were still without Simon O'Keefe and James Mitchell."
Gainey said Johnson-Blount added excitement on and off the court.
"He just knows the system and the guys were really energised and the crowd was really into it which was a positive for us," he said.
"The crowd got us over the line. There were a lot of kids there cheering their hearts out."
The Seahawks, with Alex Gynes dropping 23 points and Ollie Bidmade proving a defensive power, built a handy buffer before a late Gators' fight back put pressure on the home side.
"In the third quarter we got it out a bit, we went on a huge run," Gainey said.
"Josh Dean hit threes in a row and we went up by about 15 or 16 points.
"They pegged it back a bit in the last three minutes of the fourth quarter to make it look like a decent-looking score."
Warrnambool Mermaids' quest for a breakthrough win will stretch into another week.
The Louise Brown-coached side fell to powerhouse Hume City Broncos 96-53 on the road on Saturday night. But she can see light at the end of the tunnel.
"We've got two games at home in a row now and both teams are in the bottom five," she said.
Brown was pleased with the Mermaids' endeavour against the Broncos.
"We definitely played with a lot more energy and effort than we had a week or so ago, so I was really happy with that," she said.
"The aim was to keep them to 80 points and they got 96.
"They shot well. They are a big side and our focus was to keep them outside the paint but then they hit 12 threes on us."
The Mermaids were restricted to 18 points in the first half but rallied to sink 35 after half-time.
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