By Colin MacGillivray
WALLAN Panthers’ senior men split a pair of home games in round five of the Big V men’s division two basketball competition, while the senior women went down in a tough game against RMIT.
The women played first on Saturday night in a rematch of their round four battle with the Redbacks.
While the round four meeting yielded a six-point road win, Saturday’s match ended in a 56-60 loss for the Panthers.
Despite strong early contributions from guards Kaitlyn Wakartschuk and Sarah Scott, the shorthanded Panthers ran out of legs in a physical battle that saw only one point scored in the final three minutes.
A controversial unsportsmanlike foul called on Jacinta Scott with 3.19 to play gave the Redbacks two free-throws and possession of the ball, and the visitors were able to maintain the lead from there.
Wallan coach Carey Papanicolaou said he was proud of his players for battling in trying conditions.
“It always is physical when you play RMIT,” he said.
“They were scoring on us off of turnovers, so that let us down a bit. They were trapping and we just weren’t smart enough to get it past their trap.
“I think some of the shots we took at the end were tired shots. The balls were dropping short.
“We were a bit undermanned and you could see a few players ran out of steam. That’s basketball. It’ll be motivation to get ourselves fit.”
The Panthers’ men also played a physical game on Saturday night, battling in the first half before hitting their straps in the second to emerge with a 70-52 victory against the Craigeburn Eagles.
Wallan coach Tim Annett was absent after being diagnosed with COVID-19 during the week, and captain Jordan Hockley, sidelined with a hip injury, coached in his stead.
Hockley said the Panthers adjusted well to the physicality of Craigeburn.
“The refs let it go, which is always better. We want to play physical and it makes it a more competitive game. When there are too many foul calls everyone gets a bit frustrated and it’s not a free-flowing game,” he said.
“We came out a bit flat and once we started lifting our intensity on the defensive end, our offence started to flow a lot more because we got open and we got quicker shots.
“It was really good. The boys played really well, which makes my life easier.”
The team did not fare as well on Sunday, losing a home game against Whittlesea 72-82 after a slow start.
Despite an 18-point game by guard Lincoln Stewart off the bench and 16 points and eight rebounds from centre Arcaim Lallemand, the Panthers were comprehensively out-rebounded as Pacer Jorden Adnam starred with 31 points and 14 rebounds.
The loss dropped Wallan to 3-3 for the season, and seventh place on the ladder, with a home game against Gippsland United at 3pm on Sunday.
The division two women will also be at home at 8pm on Saturday against Altona.
The youth league division two men will host Wangaratta North East Bushrangers at 1pm on Sunday after a 97-91 win against Western Port in round five.
The youth league division two women will attempt to follow up their 76-62 win against Western Port with a home victory against the same team at 6pm Saturday and a road win against Coburg on Sunday.