Wallan Panthers seal grand final spot
Wallan Panthers are through to the Big V women’s division 2 grand final series in their first season in the competition.
The Panthers completed a clean sweep against Mornington Breakers over the last two weekends in the semi-final series.
Game one was an arm wrestle for much of the game before a couple of huge plays turned the game in the Panthers favour. Haylee Cooper-MacLean hit back-to-back three point plays, before a Sarah Mellington stop and a Jacinta Scott three, gave the Panthers a 53-45 win.
Cooper-Maclean produced her best game for the Panthers with 21 points, seven rebounds and six steals.
The Panthers then returned home for game two. After a first half rued by missed opportunities, the Panthers turned the game in their favour with a 20-7 third quarter. Gemma Jackson kept Breakers star Pat McKenzie quiet, while Jayda Hunter’s pressure was critical in building the lead.
In the end it was an easy win for the Panthers, winning 67-49, sealing a grand final spot. Jacinta Scott scored 13 points, while Hunter had 10 points. Four players chipped in with nine points each.
It sets up a grand final series with Warrnambool Mermaids, that has lost just one game for the season.
Panthers’ coach Warren Taylor said the Mermaids had a lot of weapons, but thought the two sides matched up well.
“They were made to work hard for the wins during the season,” he said.
“We play the right style to make them uncomfortable and defend the way they go about it but no question we will need to be at our absolute best to knock them off.
“And that’s fair, that’s the only way you’d want to win a championship – by beating the best teams.
“Warrnambool have paced the league all year and we will be the underdog. But that just means we have nothing to lose and we can throw everything at them. If we get it right and play with freedom and intensity we are a strong chance.”
Game one is at RB Robson Stadium, Wallan, on Saturday night from 6pm.
Meanwhile several Panthers players are up for Big V awards, which will be handed out next month.
Sarah Scott has been nominated for defensive player of the year, her sister Jacinta Scott is up for most valuable player and all-star five honours, while Taylor has been nominated for coach of the year.