Panthers push for finals

By Jackson Russell

Wallan Panthers men are 9-6 and pushing for Big V division two success after two strong wins over the weekend.

Wallan coach Carey Paps said he was rapt to go 2-0 from the weekend’s matches.

“They’re not easy to get, the back-to-backs. As a coach, it’s been 10 years since I’ve got one so I’m pretty happy,” he said.

The Panthers opened the weekend at home with a 102-67 win over Southern Peninsula Sharks.

Wallan opened up a 13-point lead in the first period and never looked like giving it up.

The Panthers led by 20 points at three-quarter time but put their foot down in the fourth and went on a 19-2 run to seal the win.

Wallan made shots from everywhere, shooting 38-75 (.507) from the field and 11-25 (.440) from three.

Trace Cureton had possibly his best game for the Panthers with 30 points, eight rebounds and five assists on 11-20 from the field and a ridiculous 5-7 from three.

“What was most pleasing was our defence was really good and to keep them to 36 at half-time was an amazing effort from the guys,” Paps said.

The Panthers followed up the next day with about 14 hours rest and a two-hour drive, then defeated Mornington Breakers 102-88 on the road.

The Breakers got the jump on Wallan early in the piece but midway through the second period, Wallan’s resilience shone through and the Panthers had a one-point lead at half-time.

Wallan plugged away and created some space to run away with the win.

While the hot shooting streak didn’t continue, Wallan out-hustled the Breakers and locked them down defensively.

The Panthers outscored Mornington in the paint 50-20 and forced 15 turnovers for 22 points.

Leigh Saffin led the Panthers with 28 points, ten rebounds and five assists on 11-24 shooting while Brock Carter had 25 points and seven rebounds on 9-14 shooting.

“Brock played a big game for us, he was outstanding. Our defence wasn’t up to scratch at the start, giving up 51 points in the first half. Mornington went at us but good teams find a way to win and we found a way to win,” Paps said.

“It was just a really good effort from everyone. You don’t win two in a row against top teams unless everybody’s on the same page and it was good to get that before the break.”

The Panthers women didn’t fare as well, going down 77-60 to Melbourne Uni Black Angels on Saturday night.

Melbourne Uni opened up a 14-point lead in the first period but the Panthers fought back to be only down by three at the first buzzer.

Wallan was only two points behind at half-time before the Black Angels went on a 15-0 run to open the second half.

The Panthers fought hard and didn’t let the lead blow out but weren’t able to recover from the run.

Jayda Hunter led the Panthers with 18 points and eight rebounds while Alex Darby had 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists.