Team effort key for Panthers

By Jackson Russell

WALLAN Panthers split their Big V games at the weekend, with the men taking a win over a local rival and the women making a tough trip out east.

The Panthers men extended their record to 6-5 with an 84-70 win over Craigieburn Eagles at home on Saturday night.

Wallan tried to open up the lead early, but was reeled back in by Craigieburn each time.

The Panthers led by five at quarter time but were on the wrong end of an 11-0 Eagles run until a 10-0 run in the second period gave the Panthers a seven point lead.

Wallan didn’t muck around in the third, running out to a 17-point lead after three quarters.

The Eagles tried to mount a comeback, but to no avail as the Panther held on for the much needed win.

Wallan’s defence was suffocating, forcing Craigieburn into 21 turnovers for the game, directly resulting in 19 Wallan points.

Import Trace Cureton led the Panthers with 24 points and eight rebounds while captain Leigh Saffin had 19 points, six rebounds and an assist.

Wallan coach Carey Paps said his players were pretty switched on and came ready to play.

“We put a bit of pressure on them and we weren’t really fouling. It was good containing D and I was pretty happy with that,” he said.

“Trace has been very consistent all year, Leigh has been too. The most pleasing thing was everybody played their role perfectly and all the guys that came off the bench played a great role.”

The Panthers take on Altona next week and look to stay within reach of a top-six spot on the ladder.

Wallan’s women had a long night, suffering an 87-55 loss to Blackburn Vikings on the road on Saturday night.

The Panthers looked like they were in with a chance in the first half, wrestling back the lead from the Vikings three times to go into half-time all tied up at 36-36.

Blackburn didn’t take kindly to the young challengers and came out of the locker room firing with an 18-4 run to open the third period.

Wallan fought back and brought the margin back to single figures but another massive Vikings run proved the difference maker as the Panthers were outscored 29-8 in the fourth as Blackburn ran away with the win.

The Panthers struggled in the paint, getting outrebounded 51-43 which resulted in 44 points in the pain and 21 second chance points for the Vikings.

Wallan’s 24 turnovers also proved costly, with the Vikings scoring 30 points from turnovers.

The loss drops Wallan’s record to 4-4 before the Panthers host 4-4 Coburg Giants next weekend.