DOUBLE DE­LIGHT

McIvor Times - - SPORTS -

HEATH­COTE Pan­thers Bas­ket­ball Club have cel­e­brated two grand final wins to end the Bendigo Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion win­ter sea­son.

Both the un­der 12 and un­der 16 boys teams won their do or die games con­vinc­ingly last Fri­day night.

Led by Max, the club's mas­cot, a large and en­thu­si­as­tic crew of black and yel­low Pan­ther sup­port­ers cheered on as the grand final for the un­der 12 di­vi­sion three boys faced off with op­po­si­tion Gen­er­als Bulls.

Daniel But­ler put the first of his five goals of the game on the board two min­utes in.

It took an­other five min­utes be­fore the Bulls could even the score. But that was as close as they ever got to the mighty Pan­thers, who spread the goals be­tween all of their five play­ers.

Dan Koop­mans utilised the pump­ing adren­a­line of his first grand final in his first bas­ket­ball sea­son to push the ball for­ward and land a cou­ple of bas­kets.

Jai Sau­varin pro­vided the height to dom­i­nate the Bulls in de­fence and on the score­board with two goals.

Frus­trat­ing the Bulls with sneaky steals, Jesse Bruce had to wait till the last few min­utes to get on the board, af­ter sev­eral near-misses, in­clud­ing an ag­o­nis­ing round and round the rim that fi­nally fell the wrong way.

An­thony Willoughby was fast paced and de­ter­mined, land­ing a two­pointer and a free throw to help his team take out what was an easy win in the end.

Final score: Heath­cote Pan­thers 27 def Gen­er­als Bulls 6 Player of the game: Daniel But­ler.

While the un­der 12s team headed to the tro­phy pre­sen­ta­tions, the Pan­thers Un­der 16s di­vi­sion four game against their tough­est com­peti­tors of the sea­son, the Beavers Rock­ets, got un­der­way.

Fierce de­fend­ing from both sides meant nei­ther team scored till the eight minute mark, with Ri­ley Bruce land­ing two from two free throws.

The Beavers re­sponded with six points in quick suc­ces­sion, be­fore Zavia Roberts put an­other four on the board for Heath­cote. Beavers' re­ply was coun­ter­acted by the first of two goals from Josh Cole­man.

Jack Lawrence was re­lent­less in de­fence, block­ing sev­eral net­bound shots from the Beavers.

Vic­tor But­ler landed the last two shots of the first half, and never backed off the throt­tle all game, with a dogged de­ter­mi­na­tion that saw him re­ceive the player of the game from the um­pires.

The Pan­thers stayed strong for the rest of the game, with Cody Sau­varin bounc­ing back af­ter a fall from a hard fought tus­sle for the ball. Zayne Pierce and Rhys

War­ren both used their height to the Pan­thers ad­van­tage, snatch­ing the re­bounds and land­ing a few goals be­tween them.

Final score: Heath­cote Pan­thers 29 def Beavers Rock­ets 20 Player of the game: Vic­tor But­ler Pan­thers club pres­i­dent Alan But­ler was de­lighted with the teams’ achieve­ments.

“It was a fan­tas­tic win for both our teams and showed just how hard the boys have worked all sea­son to im­prove them­selves,” he said.

He also said the club was very grate­ful to the Bendigo-based coaches, Sharna Ap­pleby (un­der 12s boys) and Liam Tonz­ing and Jack­son Pen­man (un­der 16 boys), who have trav­elled to train­ing and to the games each week and were highly re­spected by the play­ers.

Un­for­tu­nately the un­der 12 girls bowed out of the fi­nals last Wed­nes­day night in a hard-fought game against Gen­er­als Lynx, go­ing down 9-19 at the final siren.

De­spite the loss, coach Cather­ine Lon­er­gan was proud of the play­ers’ ef­forts.

“While I un­der­stand that the girls are a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed not to get to play in the grand final next week, each of them should be ex­tremely proud of their stel­lar per­for­mance all year,” she said.

❏ Heath­cote Pan­thers Bas­ket­ball Club’s un­der 12 team cel­e­brate win­ning the grand final.

Top— Heath­cote Pan­thers Bas­ket­ball Club’s un­der 16 boys cel­e­brate win­ning the grand final.

Above— A colour­ful bunch of Heath­cote Pan­thers Bas­ket­ball Club sup­port­ers cheer on their teams in the grand fi­nals.

Left — It was a brave ef­fort but the Un­der 12 girls Heath­cote Pan­thers Bas­ket­ball had to be con­tent with the run­ners-up spot in the grand final.

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