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Big V: Wallan Panthers show plenty in round two

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By Colin MacGillivray

WALLAN Panthers’ senior division two men’s team scored its first win of the season in Big V basketball competition’s round two at the weekend, while the senior division two women opened their account with a tough overtime loss.

The women made their 2022 debut on the road against a tough opponent in Gippsland United and nearly pulled off a thrilling win after leading for most of the game.

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The Panthers were up by six points at three-quarter time, but a series of turnovers and missed opportunities left the door ajar for Gippsland United. The home side tied the scores with four minutes remaining and took the lead for the first time since the opening minute on a Chloe Hogg putback layup.

Wallan’s Carly Simons tied the score with 41 seconds remaining and after stopping Gippsland on the ensuing possession, Wallan had a chance to win the game in regulation, but could not get a shot away.

Gippsland United grabbed an early lead in overtime and did not relinquish it, going on to win 60-54.

Despite the loss, Panthers coach Carey Papanicolaou said he had seen plenty to like from his young side.

“We had a chance to win the game and missed,” he said.

“I think a few fundamental errors let us down and got them back in the game. We let them in and then we did well to draw the game.

“They’re a pretty good side, so at least we know where we stand in the competition now. It was our first game and they’re a decent team with some good players.”

Kaitlyn Wakartschuk struggled to find her range for most of the game but led Wallan in scoring with 15 points, while Simons had 11 and young player Kaitlyn Bickerton earned Papanicolaou’s praise with 10 points and nine rebounds.

With a home game against Blackburn looming at 3pm on Sunday, Papanicolaou said his team would be ready.

“We just have to execute our game plan and do the right things,” he said.

Meanwhile men’s coach Tim Annett was full of praise for his charges after a bounce-back 96-65 road win against Surf Coast on Saturday.

After struggling to connect from three-point range in back-to-back round one losses, the Panthers shot the lights out against the Chargers.

Wallan hit a blistering 16 of its 32 three-point attempts, with five coming from guard Abraham Solano and six from a red-hot Peter Leckie off the bench.

Leckie, 21 points, and Solano, 19, were Wallan’s leading scorers, with Jackson Wynne, 13, Arcaim Lallemand, 12, and Tyler Best, 11, also notching double figures.

Annett said he was confident the team would turn around quickly after a pair of six-point losses in round one.

“Defensively we were still relatively good – we kept both teams under 70 points – which made me believe that if we just made a few more shots we could quite easily have been 3-0,” he said.

“It’s down to the guys starting to put in some hard work even away from training in their own time. Hopefully going forward we can put a few more wins on the board.”

The team will meet Altona at 2pm on Sunday.

Annett said his charges were keen to atone for their round one loss to the Gators.

“The game was only won in the last three minutes,” he said.

“Altona is 4-0 now, so it’s definitely a challenge we’re looking forward to.

“The guys are looking forward to bouncing back against them and we’re going into it relatively confident that we can do that.”

There were mixed results for Wallan’s youth league teams at the weekend, with the division two men losing 72-86 to Packenham and the women trouncing Melton 108-26 before losing to Mornington 43-51.

The men will play an away game against Whittlesea at Mill Park at 2pm on Sunday, with the women travelling to play Southern Peninsula at 5pm on Saturday before returning home to host Blackburn at 1pm on Sunday.

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