Panthers’ perfect 10

Wallan Panthers’ men finished 2019 on the right note with back-to-back wins against Shepparton and Benalla over the weekend.

The Panthers men improved to a perfect 10-0 heading into the Christmas break.

Wallan coach Tim Annett said he was happy with where the Panthers ended 2019 but aware every team was out to get them.

“We haven’t achieved anything as of yet and all the guys are really aware of the hard work still ahead of us,” he said.

The Panthers men didn’t look in trouble all weekend, opening the back-to-back with a 73-51 win against an understrength Shepparton at home on Saturday night.

Going into half-time with scores tied at 31-31, the Panthers over-ran the Gators and put on a clinic in the second half, outscoring the visitors 31-8 to lead by 23 after three quarters.

With the result all but decided, the Panthers cruised to their ninth win of the season.

Jordan Sullivan led the Panthers in scoring with 17 points while Max Viitala had 16 and Luke Liesegang had 14.

Annett said the Panthers came out of the gates a bit flat.

“Teams are coming at us pretty hard so we couldn’t get going offensively and we were turning the ball over a lot,” he said.

“At half-time we adjusted the way we played and started making a fair few shots.

“Jordan’s had a consistent year but he was our main player this weekend. He’s really come a long way and is a major part of where we’re at right now.”

Wallan carried its momentum up the Hume Freeway on Sunday with a 78-58 win at Benalla.

Much like the previous night, the Panthers and Breakers were tied at 36-36 at half-time with the two teams trading buckets.

Wallan started to pull away in the third period, opening up a six-point lead at three-quarter time.

Max Viitala scored 14 of the Panthers’ 25 fourth-quarter points, finishing with 24 points, and led the Panthers’ winning streak into double-digits.

Jordan Sullivan backed up Saturday night’s performance with another 16 points.

Annett said the Panthers knew Benalla was going to be a tough match-up from the start.

“They got off to a really good start and got the crowd behind them so to come back and have a good win was a real positive for us,” he said.

“We know Max is our go-to guy when things get tough and they found it hard to stop him in the fourth so he was the one who got us over the line.”

The Panthers remain on top of the CBL North East ladder, 2.5 games clear of Myrtleford Saints (7-2) and 4.5 games ahead of Seymour Blasters (5-4).

The Panthers return to action on Saturday, January 11, hosting Wodonga Wolves.