Panthers rally for third straight win

By Jackson Russell

Wallan Panthers remain undefeated in the Country Basketball League north east division with wins to both men’s and women’s teams over Seymour Blasters on Saturday.

The Panthers’ women started the night off on the right foot with a 102-88 win, coming back from a 16-point quarter time deficit.

The Panthers were able to bring the margin back to just five points at half-time with a 28-17 second quarter.

Wallan took the lead for the first time since the opening minutes with 3:38 left in the third after back-to-back buckets from the returning Carley Cranston.

The two sides traded baskets for the rest of the third, with Wallan leading by four at the buzzer.

It was all Wallan in the fourth as the Panthers outscored the Blasters 27-17 for the 14-point win.

Wallan coach Ben Whyte said the Panthers’ depth was one of the keys to the win.

“It was a huge win for us. I know the girls weren’t happy with our first quarter performance, giving up 34 in the first quarter especially when we focused on our defence and have held teams to 40,” he said.

“It went back and forth for a bit in the third but they only had eight so they ran out of legs. They only had two main scorers so we were able to run them off their feet.”

Carley Cranston dominated in her return from injury, dropping 33 points including six from three-point range.

Nicola Stewart (23 points) and Amber Ross (19 points) also had strong games.

Whyte said Cranston was vital for the team on both ends of the floor.

“She made a lot of plays on the defensive end which led to transition baskets for her and assists to the other girls. She wasn’t able to train this week so to play 35 minutes and score 33 was just phenomenal,” he said.

“We definitely had a height advantage so for them to come up big was a breakout game for both Nicola and Amber.”

Wallan’s men kept the ball rolling with a wire-to-wire 102-78 win.

The Panthers opened scoring in the first minute and never game up the lead.

After leading by four points at quarter time, the Panthers quickly opened up a 15-point lead halfway through the second.

Wallan continued to extend the lead right to the final buzzer.

Max Viitala led the Panthers with 33 points on 15 makes and was supported by Lincoln Stewart, who was seeing the rim like a hula hoop, scoring 22 points with a staggering 18 coming from three-point land.

Wallan has a bye in round four before heading to Wodonga where the Wolves’ women are also undefeated while the men are winless.