Wallan captain Jordan Hockley.

WALLAN Panthers’ senior men’s and women’s teams will take their finals destinies in their own hands in the coming fortnight as the Big V basketball season draws to a close.

The Panthers’ division two men fought bravely against ladder leader Gippsland United in a Saturday night road game that was closer than the 84-97 final score indicated.

Wallan was put on the back foot early when the United side put up 26 points to the Panthers’ 17 in the first quarter, but fought back to reclaim the lead in the second term.

US import Arcaim Lallemand played one of his best games in the Wallan uniform with 32 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals on efficient 14-21 shooting, but the depth of Gippsland began to tell in the second half.

United starters Ben Barlow, 20 points, and Brandon Armstrong, 18, led the way for the home side, but Jordan Gooiker, 18, and Kody Tibballs, 12, were just as crucial off the bench.

Jackson Wynne had 13 points of his own in one of his best games since embracing a sixth-man role for Wallan, but inconsistent perimeter shooting and a lack of rebounding hurt the visitors.

A Gary Saunders layup had Wallan within eight points with under seven minutes to play, but an 11-0 Gippsland United run effectively ended the Panthers’ chances.

Wallan now sits sixth on the division two men’s ladder, leading Craigeburn in the race for the last finals berth by three wins.

Wallan can cement its place in the post-season if it beats Mornington in a road game this Saturday night.

The association’s division two women also look likely to play finals after dismantling Collingwood 115-43 on Saturday.

Wallan suffocated the Magpies on the defensive end, allowing single-digit point totals in the first and fourth quarters, while Kaitlyn Wakartschuk relished her return to the court with 34 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and three steals.

Erin Mifsud scored 21 points off the bench, while Sarah Scott totalled 19 points, Jacinta Scott had 12 and Amber Ross finished with 10.

The women’s team will play a pair of away games, with a challenge against top side Mornington on Saturday night followed by a meeting with finals aspirant Corio Bay. A win in either game should be enough to guarantee the team a finals berth, although how high the Panthers finish remains to be seen.

Wallan’s division two youth league women continued to set the pace in their competition, downing Albury-Wodonga 68-59 behind an even scoring spread, with five players reaching double figures.

The team will host Whittlesea at 1pm on Sunday, with Wallan’s youth league division two men to play against Mornington at 3pm. The men suffered a 65-98 loss to Sunbury at the weekend.

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