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 two-pointer 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 net-bound 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.