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Basketball rivalry renewed in Mitchell Shire

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By Colin MacGillivray

MITCHELL Shire’s two Country Basketball League teams renewed their rivalry in Wallan on Saturday night, with the Seymour Blasters and Wallan Panthers winning one game each.

The Blasters entered as the reigning champions in both the men’s and women’s north-east division competitions, but were defeated handily in the opening game against Wallan’s women.

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The Panthers looked sharp from the opening tip, scoring freely and restricting the Blasters at the other end of the court to race to a 42-14 half time lead.

Wallan could seemingly do no wrong, with Carley Cranston and Kaitlyn Bickerton each scoring 24 points to lead the team, and Ruby Pantisano hitting four three-pointers on her way to 18.

Melissa Buckley added a handy 10 points, while Madison Tinetti, Chloe Mott, Nicola Stewart and Katarina Kekez helped round out the team’s 91 points.

For Seymour, only college-bound guard Maddison Ford was able to record a double-digit scoring total with 12 points, while Jasmine Hunter had eight, Katelyn Russell had seven and Kasey Lennox had six.

The 97-37 thumping dislodged the previously undefeated Blasters from top spot on the ladder, while Wallan moved up to fourth place with the percentage-boosting win.

Seymour will attempt to bounce back against the Wangaratta Warriors at home at 5.30pm on Saturday, while Wallan has a bye.

It was a different story in the men’s game, with Seymour running away after a tight first quarter to win 78-47 against a young Wallan squad.

Blasters coach Craig Hockley said Seymour’s defensive intensity after quarter time helped wear down the Panthers and led to easy scoring opportunities in transition.

“It was a tough win. We had to really grind it out,” he said.

“Wallan is a very young team but they were really competitive. It was our experience and bigger bodies in the end that took a toll on them.

“Our defensive effort went up after quarter time, which then generated offense. We kept them to seven points in the second quarter and we were able to then generate some layups out of our defensive efforts.”

Seymour’s balanced scoring attack was led by Harry Stones with 14 points, while Tyler Best had 13 and Jack Murphy had 11. All but two of the Blasters players scored in the game – something Hockley labelled one of the team’s strengths.

“We’ve had four games now and we’ve had four different guys lead us in scoring each game,” he said.

“Then we have other contributors as well, so we’re not reliant on any one or two players to score our points. We really go 10, 11 or 12 deep.”

Wallan, by contrast, was led by Ryan Philippe’s 23-point performance, while the rest of the team struggled to generate consistent offense.

The Panthers’ men will travel to Mansfield on Saturday as they attempt to correct course against the Eagles, while the Blasters will host Wangaratta at Seymour Sports and Aquatic Centre from 7.30pm.

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