By Jackson Russell
Whittlesea’s women got their second victory of the Big V state championship season with a 76-68 win over Warrnambool Mermaids on the road on Saturday night.
The Pacers were under the pump early, as a 12-0 run gave the Mermaids a 10-point lead in the first quarter.
Whittlesea replied in the second, outscoring Warrnambool 28-12, including a 10-0 run to close the first half with an eight point lead.
The two sides traded buckets throughout the second half with the Pacers leading by as much as 13 before the Mermaids came back with a couple of big shots late in the third.
A Warrnambool run brought the margin to within four points before the win was sealed by Dani Reinwald making a lay-up with 21 seconds on the clock and sinking two clutch free throws at the death.
Reinwald had a massive game in the paint, dropping 26 points on 10-19 shooting and grabbing 20 rebounds while Rachel Bell had 27 points and two rebounds. Jamilla Georgi continued her good form with 13 points and eight rebounds.
Whittlesea’s men didn’t fare as well in their division one clash with Western Port Steelers, falling 83-67 at home.
Coach Brian Vaughns called the officials out after the loss, saying the game was decided by the whistle rather than the players.
“I blame this game on the referees. I make no bones about it,” he said.
“They finished the game 18-27 from the line after being 5-6 in the first half.
“That was a game that was not decided by the players and if you’re at this level, let the players decide.”
The Pacers were down early in a low-scoring first period and were behind by as many as 14 in the second period before rallying with a 9-2 run to bring the deficit back to seven points at half time.
Whittlesea’s momentum continued in the third period with a 7-0 run to open second half and take a three-point lead.
The Steelers responded with a run of their own before the teams were tied to end the third.
With the game still anyone’s for the taking, the Pacers ran out of legs as the Steelers stormed home with a 22-6 run for the win.
Judson Seumanu led the Pacers with 20 points and nine rebounds while Dominic Bruno had 15 points and an assist off the bench.
Vaughns said the side’s turned a corner and is ready for the rest of the season.
“We’ve turned the corner and we’ll be ready for Warrandyte and Melbourne Uni next week, that’s for sure. Teams better be ready, because we’re coming,” he said.