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Wallan Panthers score double header victory

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Jordyn Grubisic
Jordyn Grubisic
Jordyn Grubisic is a senior journalist for the North Central Review primarily covering politics at all levels and sport with a particular interest in basketball. Since 2019 she has worked for several publications across Victoria including most recently at the Alexandra Standard and Yea Chronicle. She is always keen to hear from local community members about issues they face and has an interest in crime and court reporting.

Wallan Panthers’ division two men had back-to-back wins in their double header at the weekend.

Saturday’s game saw Wallan head down the road to Craigieburn for a competitive and close match.

Wallan took advantage of Craigieburn’s inability to score in the opening minutes, hitting 13. Wallan maintained a comfortable lead closing the first quarter 8-23.

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The second quarter started with the same energy as the first, with Craigieburn unable to finish on two turnover opportunities by the Panthers.

Tom O’Connor continued his impressive shooting with the first three points on the board.

Craigieburn began to find its feet, scoring on forced turnovers.

The Panthers found themselves in a bit of a dry spell, missing baskets that Craigieburn were converting down their end.

Wallan continued its struggle to score, with Craigieburn shrinking the margin to one point heading into halftime.

Out of the half, Craigieburn hit the first two points off a defensive rebound, putting the Eagles in front for the first time. After some scoreless transitions by Wallan, Craigieburn extended the lead further 42 to 37.

With under six minutes remaining, Tyler Best hit a jump shot to shift the momentum for the Panthers and, combined with some excellent free throw shooting from Dominic Bruno, brought Wallan back into the lead.

The Eagles hit the lead with three minutes remaining after a three-point play from Willian Tankard, followed by two free throws made from a tech foul against Wallan’s coach.

The game remained tight, but Craigieburn pulled ahead 57 to 51 heading into the fourth.

It remained close in the fourth until Bruno hit a three, putting Wallan ahead but the Eagles were back in front with six minutes to go.

Crucial free-throw makes from the Panthers again put them in front as they drew their lead out 74 to 66, but Craigieburn continued to claw its way back.

A three-pointer from Tyler Loats put Craigieburn back within one point with a minute left in the game.

Craigieburn tied the game 75 apiece with 46 seconds to go before O’Connor hit a two-point jumper.

Wallan remained ahead until Craigieburn’s Guy Dupuy drew the foul and, in a lucky break for Wallan, only made one of his free throws, shrinking the gap to just one point with 10 seconds to go.

Best came in clutch for Wallan in the final moments of the game, drawing the foul and hitting one free throw with seven seconds to go. Best then got the rebound off his second, drew another foul and hit the next two free throws.

Craigieburn called a timeout with six seconds left but nothing could eventuate and Wallan won 80-76.

The Panthers backed up its efforts on Sunday with a home game against Mornington. Wallan secured another victory with Bruno having an outstanding game, hitting 31 points with three rebounds and four assists.

Much like the opening of the Craigieburn game, Wallan punished Mornington for every missed opportunity, scoring on every transition in the opening minutes, while Mornington struggled to find its feet after an initial three.

Bruno closed out the quarter with a three-point play, comfortably setting the side up 28-9 heading into the second.

Lachlan King had a great second quarter for Mornington, who began to come back 21-38 before Wallan called a timeout with six minutes left.

It was again another tough second quarter for Wallan with Mornington outscoring them. Luckily for the Panthers, their early lead had them sitting ahead – but the margin shrunk to 13 heading into the half.

The third quarter saw Wallan pick up the momentum and baskets began to drop, pushing their lead back out to 23 points to close the quarter 73 to 50.

The fourth quarter was comfortable for Wallan with the side maintaining its lead and winning the game by 22 points.

Fourth-placed Wallan will travel to play Surf Coast on Saturday in a fourth versus five clash.

Panthers narrow loss

Wallan women’s team fell short, going down 80 to 87 against Gippsland on the road on Saturday.

Even with an impressive scoring game from Olivia Dalmau with 24 and import Kylah Collins, who had a double-double with 22 points and 17 rebounds, Gippsland managed to secure the lead early and never let up.

Both teams struggled to score in the opening minutes until Collins hit two with a nice tip in, drawing the foul but missing the free throw for a three-point play.

Gippsland answered instantly with a successful three-point play of their own putting them one ahead.

The game remained evenly matched with Wallan always on the heels of Gippsland, until it was unable to score for the remaining three minutes of the quarter. Gippsland took advantage and extended their lead, heading into the second 26 to 13.

Gippsland opened the second with a layup while Wallan continued struggling to score. After two more baskets Wallan’s Kaitlyn Bickerton hit a three pointer for the basket of the quarter.

Wallan found its feet and scoring became consistent for both sides with a comeback looking good for Wallan. However, Gippsland’s lead was too big with Wallan heading into the half trailing 47-34.

Consistent scoring efforts in the third saw the teams maintain the margin until Wallan made a few baskets to Gippsland’s misses, bringing the Panthers to within six points.

Gippsland got on another run, scoring off its transitions with Wallan unable to respond and the quarter ended with Wallan down 54 to 67.

Wallan managed to come back to within three baskets with five minutes remaining in the fourth.

Gippsland again pulled ahead but Wallan refused to give in, getting within four points with 30 seconds remaining. Wallan couldn’t hit shot attempts in the final seconds and Gippsland took the win 87 to 80. Wallan sit third with Gippsland remaining undefeated on top.

This weekend Wallan face Surf Coast on the road in a competitive second versus third match, looking for revenge after losing by two points in round six.

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