By Jackson Russell
Wallan Panthers have been bundled out of the Big V division two finals with an 87-58 loss to Craigieburn.
The Panthers were in control for much of the first half in the elimination final at Craigieburn, leading by as much as 12 points in the first period.
Wallan coach Carey Paps said the Panthers ran their plan to perfection in the first period.
“We knew the ball would go into Damon Smith and we’d double team so that worked well and we had good ball movement on offence,” he said.
The lead grew to 14 points before Craigieburn fought back to trail by three points at half-time on the back of a 10-0 run.
“We went away from what we were doing well. We made the adjustment, not Craigieburn and that’s what cost us the game,” Paps said.
The two sides traded buckets in the third period until the Eagles went on an 11-0 run to close the quarter with a 10-point lead.
With the season on the line, the Panthers couldn’t hold on and were outscored 24-5 in the final period to end their season.
“We just got out of our game plan. Every time we missed a shot, they punished us. We didn’t make them work that hard on defence,” Paps said.
“They hit a couple big threes and Liam Watts controlled the whole game. He played really good defence and made shots at crucial times.
“They were punishing our mistakes but credit to Craigieburn, they played well and deserved the win.”
Most of the damage was done on the inside with the Panthers out-rebounded 53-43 leading to 20 points in the paint to eight and 23 second chance points to 14.
Damon Smith led the Eagles with 24 points and 20 rebounds while Liam Watt has 12 points and five assists.
Wallan captain Hayden Annett did his best to lead from the front with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Leo Viitala put in a good effort from the bench with 15 points and two rebounds.
“I’m proud of the way the guys played all season. It was a big improvement from last season but it just wasn’t meant to be,” Paps said.
By Jackson Russell