By Jackson Russell
Wallan Panthers’ men are now 3-2 in Big V division one after a 90-85 loss to the Mildura Heat on the road.
Playing at Mildura’s Hothouse on Saturday night, both teams traded blows in the first half.
The Heat went up six early before an 8-0 Panthers run. Back and forth three-pointers saw the Heat take a one-point lead into the first break.
Wallan and Mildura continued to trade buckets until a 15-3 run saw the Heat go into half-time with a 12-point lead.
The Panthers were able to bring the deficit back down to four points in the fourth period and a couple late buckets gave Wallan hope but it was too late.
Mildura dominated inside, out-rebounding Wallan 61-40, which contributed to 21 second chance points to 10 and 44 points in the paint to 22.
Calvin Henry was key to that interior presence, pulling down 20 rebounds for the Heat to go with his 20 points.
Leigh Saffin dropped 27 points, eight rebounds and an assist for the Panthers while import Trace Cureton had 20 points, eight rebounds and two assists.
Wallan coach Carey Paps said a bad second quarter was costly.
“It was a good comeback but they’re pretty hard to beat up there and at least we know we can compete against these top teams,” he said.
“It’s tough against Henry, he was grabbing everything but Brock Carter did pretty well, holding him to 20 points.
“They hit some massive threes and blew the game away. They won it from the outside to be honest.”
The Panthers’ women’s struggles continued, going down 78-62 to the Pakenham Warriors on the road.
The Panthers were right in it early, going out to a five point lead before the Warriors 17-5 run to take a six point lead into quarter time.
Wallan came back strong with a 15-2 second term to take a seven point lead into half-time.
It was all Pakenham coming out of the half as a 27-9 quarter saw the Warriors lead by as much as 14 points in the third period.
The Panthers made a valiant effort to close the gap to three points in the fourth quarter but the Warriors closed the game out with a 19-7 run for the 16-point win.
Wallan’s errant shooting was costly, making 19-76 (.250) from the field. The Panthers also had trouble protecting the paint, conceding 38 points inside to 18.
Carly Simons had another strong showing for the Panthers with 18 points, 12 rebounds and an assists while Megan Marasco had 20 points and five rebounds off the bench.