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Panthers’ men eliminated from finals

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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.

The sun has set on the 2023 Big V season for the division two Wallan Panthers men following a 38-point loss to Whittlesea Pacers in Saturday’s sold-out clash.

After a strong first quarter the Panthers couldn’t sustain momentum, going down 66 to 104.

Wallan’s starting lineup changed with Lincoln Stewart replacing Tom O’Connor’s usual place in the starting five to address game match ups and to start with a smaller line-up

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Big V All-Star Five and MVP finalist Arcaim Lallemand went into the game with a broken fibula, limiting his playing ability.

Playing just over nine minutes, Lallemand fouled out and was unable to contribute his usual huge numbers.

Captain Keenan Gorski and key defender Tyler Best led Wallan’s scoring with 18 points apiece and were named in the Big V division two men starting five.

Best’s scoring efforts in the first quarter put the Panthers ahead despite turnovers and kept them competitive in their strongest quarter of the game as they trailed 20 to 24 heading into the second quarter.

Wallan head coach Tim Annett said the Panthers couldn’t maintain their first quarter effort.

“We had a really strong start in the first quarter. We got ourselves in the game at quarter time, which was one of our main objectives at the start but from there onwards we were just completely outplayed,” he said.

The Panthers struggled for the rest of the game with rebounds, often getting only one shot attempt in offensive plays with lack of offensive rebounds.

Whittlesea capitalised on their opportunities, rebounding well to have multiple scoring attempts.

The Pacers’ intense pressure forced seven Wallan turnovers in the second quarter.

“In the second quarter we couldn’t make any shots and they just got on a big run. We didn’t have a lot go our way but all in all we were just beaten by a better team,” Annett said.

“I think Tyler Best tried his heart out at both ends of the floor and gave everything he could.

“Everyone else competed to the best of their ability but we were probably just outclassed in the end.”

Whittlesea’s Gabe Evans, also an All Star Five and MVP contender, was a challenge for Wallan, scoring a double-double with 25 points and 14 rebounds.

“We knew that Gabe Evans was going to be very hard to stop. We went into it trying to stop Gabe and Patty Green,” Annett said.

“We did a really good job on Green, kept him to nine points, and with Gabe he probably got away from us a little bit but that’s just how the game was played.

“In transition he’s sort of hard to stop.”

The loss closes the curtain on Wallan’s season.

“Although we’re disappointed with the end result we still finished third. We feel like we’ve achieved something,” Annett said.

“It’s another step forward from what we had last year with a relatively new group.

“I think we had some standout performers during the year but all in all I think as a squad, everybody played their role and did their job. It was a really enjoyable group to be around.

“The guys are obviously a bit disappointed from the weekend but proud of themselves and what they’ve achieved as well.”

Along with Lallemand, Wallan guard Dominic Bruno is in contention for division two All Star Five and MVP.

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