Wallan Panthers no match for Craigieburn

By Tara Murray

Wallan Panthers got to experience the best of the Craigieburn Eagles and weren’t able to match them in their Big V women’s division 2 semi final.

Having beaten the Eagles twice convincingly during the season, the Panthers hadn’t had a good look at why the Eagles claimed the minor premiership.

But that changed on Saturday night, as the Eagles were able to outplay the Panthers, with the Eagles winning 65-57.

Panthers coach Warren Taylor said they weren’t able to play their game for long enough.

“We’ve beaten them con both times during the year, with really solid good quality team defence,” he said.

“We probably didn’t get rewarded for it a little bit and we didn’t cover some areas early when we needed to. It put us on the back foot.”

It was a player that Taylor knows well in Kellie Bailey-Lynn that did the damage for the Eagles

Taylor previously coached Bailey-Lynn at Craigieburn.

“We had a couple of runs that we got our nose in front,” he said. “That was a good bit of pressure and we seemed to drop off a little bit and you can’t do that against Kellie.

“Kellie is just too smart and too good at controlling the game and getting their team back on track. She was a hell of a difference down the stretch and in the first half when she got them going.”

Taylor said not being able to get the spread of scorers they normally had, also played a part.

In the first quarter, they had just two scorers and only one player had scored from the field.

He said like they have in other games when they’ve been behind they lost their shape offensively.

“Gemma Jackson has been hitting shots everywhere and I think she went 0-5 in the first quarter… You hit a couple of those ones. Or Tessa Ramsay hits a couple she took in the first quarter, it’s a different game.”

The standout for the Panthers was Emmie O’Nial, who had 17 points and 11 rebounds.

O’Nial, who is a proven finals performer, missed the Panthers finals run last season.

Taylor said he hoped O’Nial would be named in the All-Star 5 team next month.

“She’s been such a quality player,” he said. “The trick is to find her in the right spots.

“I think she had 17 and 11, but she did it really tough, really hard.

“She had to really fight against the clunky zone, to get the ball and we didn’t do a good enough job of finding her.”

The Panthers this week play Blackburn Vikings. Taylor said they were probably the inform team of the competition.