Seymour's Aiyana Ananiev drives to the basket against Myrlteford during Saturday's Country Basketball League semi final.

WALLAN Panthers and Seymour Blasters are set to square off in Country Basketball League north-east conference women’s grand final this weekend, while Seymour will also contest the men’s grand final.

The two clubs narrowly missed out on making both grand finals an all-Mitchell Shire affair, with Wallan’s men falling in a 76-65 overtime loss to the Benalla Breakers in Saturday’s semi-final.

The Panthers staged a brilliant fightback, led by Max Viitala and Luke Liesegang, after trailing by seven points at half time, but ran out of legs after a low-scoring and hotly contested final quarter.

Seymour will now battle the Breakers for a premiership after dispatching the Wodonga Wolves 73-53 in the other men’s semi-final.

The Blasters’ calling card – defence – was on full display as they restricted the Wolves to only seven points in the second quarter, taking a 22-point lead into the long break.

Blasters coach Craig Hockley was just as impressed with his team’s offensive performance, as five players – Keenan Gorski, Jack Murphy, Tyler Best, Thomas O’Connor and Robbie Sartori – scored in double figures.

“We executed our stuff really well on both ends of the floor and maintained it over four quarters, which was good,” he said.

“We kept them to 53, and we’ve been trying to keep teams under 60, so we achieved that.

“To have five guys in double figures means we’re not too reliant on any one player and you can spread the ball around.”

Hockley said Saturday night’s grand final in Wallan would be a tough affair.

“They’ll be very difficult to match up on. They’ve got a really good guard in Eric [Miraflores] and a forward [Sam Beks] who hasn’t played yet against us,” he said.

“It’ll be about the defensive end again. We need to shut them down and the offence will come out of that.”

While Wallan and Seymour prepare to face off in the women’s grand final, the paths both squads took to reach the decider are very different.

The Panthers were given a free path to the premiership decider after the Wodonga Lady Wolves were unable to field a team on Saturday, while the Blasters did it the hard way in a 62-56 win against Myrtleford Saints.

Seymour built an eight-point lead in the first half but had to withstand a Myrtleford fightback, doing just enough to hold on for a win.

Coach Bill Pearce said the team decided collectively to inbound the ball in the backcourt after a timeout to give itself a chance of running out the shot clock to end the game.

He said the collaborative approach taken by the Blasters was one of their biggest strengths.

“The same group has basically been together for three years. They decided to come back this year and they banded together and played as a group,” he said.

“Every club talks about culture, but it’s something that we’ve really tried to build because a few years ago we had a couple of seasons off with no team.

“They drive the entire process. They decided our training times and days, and we try to facilitate them as a group.”

Pearce said the grand final would be decided by shot-making.

“It’ll be a very tough grand final. Wallan are a very good side and they’re very tough and well drilled and skilled,” he said.

“Going to Wallan is going to be a very interesting thing. They call it The Jungle, and it is for us.

“They have a very vocal supporter base, and they don’t have a great amount of seating but it’s always very full. It’s an intimidating place to play. We’re not going in overwhelmed, but we know it will be very difficult.”

Wallan coach Ben Whyte said it was disappointing not to have played a semi-final, but believed his players would be ready to go.

“It would have been nice to earn that spot in the grand final, but we’ll take a spot whatever way we can,” he said.

“Because our CBL side trains with our Big V women, we always have the opportunity to scrimmage and prepare against an opposition at every training session. It means they’re playing against quality players each and every week.”

Both coaches said there was an element of the unknown in the grand final, with the only meeting between the Panthers and Blasters coming in round one in November.

“It’s going to be a bit of an odd one going into a grand final having played them only once,” Whyte said.

“I think the key will be how both teams come out at the start. We know Seymour always comes out strong. In our first match-up they put us to the sword early and scored a lot of points. We found ourselves 12 or 14 points down at quarter time, so we need to stop that.”

The men’s and women’s grand finals will both be on Saturday night at Wallan’s RB Robson Stadium, with the women playing at 5.30pm and the men scheduled to play at 8pm.