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Hope remains for Wallan Panthers

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Pam Kiriakidis
Pam Kiriakidis
Pam Kiriakidis has worked as a journalist at the North Central Review since 2022, with a particular focus on the City of Whittlesea and stories for the Whittlesea Review. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media and Communications majoring in journalism and focuses on politics, community, and health with the occasional niche sports story finding its way in front of her.

Wallan Panthers hosted its pink round to support the Breast Cancer Network Australia on Saturday and will extend the pink round this weekend with its Division Two men match against Sherbrooke.

The Panther’s women hosted Warrandyte in round ten of the Big V competition on Saturday night, giving supporters of the Jungle a well-contested game.

Compared to previous games, Wallan had a better start with the side locked in to take on the undefeated team. 

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Warrandyte scored the first few points, but the Panthers’ improved defence was shown in the first quarter, which led to several free throws and layups from Wallan.

Coach Jarrod Bridge said he was proud of the team’s efforts in working together, especially in the first quarter.

“Defence … something we’ve been really focusing on, that in the last couple of weeks has been better as a team, is playing defence,” he said.

“Everything clicked – the things that we talked about. The effort that we’re looking for as a team, not just from the coaching staff, but from the team itself – it was there.” 

Although Warrandyte was the dominating team, the Panthers was all in, adding more than 20 points to the scoreboard each quarter.

Wallan was only off nine points to make the win, with the final score 74-83.

“We got like 20 points down at three quarter time and it didn’t faze them, the girls were just locked, they were ready, they wanted that challenge – that’s what I was most proud of,” Bridge said. 

“Kylah [Collins] had a massive game on both ends of the floor, she was so good for us [and] Molly Young, she played so consistently, she was reading the offence so well, getting hands in the way, deflecting basketballs all the time.

[Young], she was like our anchor that made our defence as good as it was.”  

Heading into round 11 against Craigieburn this weekend, the next round will determine whether the side will be in division one or two for the rest of the competition. 

Bridge said he hoped for a much-needed win this weekend before the division split.

“We’re coming up against another team that has a really good player from America, she’s a really good import, obviously for us Kylah [Collins] is our import,” he said. 

“Our big thing is going to be slowing her down, or at least minimising her impact on the game and obviously keep this energy that we took in this week, keep that rolling.”

Men

Returning after a bye, Wallan Panthers’ Division Two mens’ game was a redemption match for Wallan against Craigieburn as the side were defeated in round six of the Big V competition. 

Wallan’s Leigh Dean secured the first two points, with the game continuing in Wallan’s favour as the side were up by one-point at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter was Craigieburn’s return, making the most of Wallan’s missed shots.

By the end of the third quarter, Craigieburn was up by nine points.

But history repeated itself as Wallan let the game against Craigieburn slip through its fingers, with the team taking victory again with an 89-75 win. 

Coach Travis Heal said it was a winnable game, but Wallan weren’t showing enough effort on the day.

“Our aim was to ensure we take good shots and play as a team and we did this – however, we let Craigieburn get 19 more shots than us which in the end hurt,” he said.

“These extra shots come from us not boxing out and turn overs.”

Wallan Panthers will continue its pink round with the men’s side hosting Sherbrooke on Sunday.

“We will regroup, have a couple of good hard training sessions, and come out better against Sherbrooke this weekend,” Heal said.

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