By Jackson Russell
WHITTLESEA Pacers’ women were unable to get the win in their first Big V State Basketball Championship game, going down to McKinnon Cougars 84-67 at home.
The Pacers started hot, taking a six-point lead into the first break but the Cougars came back firing with a 24-8 second quarter to take a 39-29 lead into the half.
McKinnon stretched the lead with a 23-15 third period, putting the game out of the Pacers’ reach.
Whittlesea’s shooting let them down, going 27-80 (.337) from the field and 3-14 (.214) from three.
The Pacers were reliant on their new imports, with Dani Reinwald leading the team with 27 points, a massive 21 rebounds and two assists while Rachel Bell played all 40 minutes and had 24 points and 11 rebounds.
No other Pacers had more than six points, but Caitlyn McLeod moved the ball well with eight assists.
They did their best to contain McKinnon forward Emma Pearce who had 31 points and 14 rebounds.
Coach Damon Lowery said it was a step up for the Pacers’ reconstructed roster.
“I was really happy with their effort and at one stage, we had a 12 point lead. The imports have only been in the country for six days so we were all a bit underdone but I was really happy with effort of the group,” he said.
“Dani’s got the work rate of two people, I couldn’t believe it, her energy is just so high. Rachel playing the whole game was great too. I played as an import once and we don’t fly them out to sit on the bench. They’ve only been in the country six day so they’re only going to get better.
“Caitlyn McLeod had eight assists, I was rapt for her. Aaliyah Cordova, she’s the baby of the team at 17 years old, she went out there and played and competed on the defensive end. They’re the future of the club so I couldn’t be more proud.”