Panthers Winning Form
Sean Weekes showcases his own brand of magic for the Panthers - photo courtesy of Noel Rowsell (www.photoexcellence.com.au)
The past two weeks have been a busy period for Penrith's three Youth League Basketball teams, with three wins from five games putting them slightly on the positive side of the balance sheet.
The Division One Men showed impressive form against the Sutherland Sharks in Round 7, racing away to a 51-28 half time lead but then going into cruise mode to win 89-76.
Round 8 saw the Panthers face another team from the bottom end of the competition ladder (Moss Vale Magic) and were slow to start, leading 18-12 after an unimpressive first quarter.
The remainder of the game saw the Panthers in top form, cruising to a 79-40 win.
Sean Weekes grabbed 39 points over the two weeks, ahead of Adam Lulka 35 and Bryden Albertyn 26.
The Division One women lost starters Emily Potts (meniscus) and Chloe Bloom (hamstring) before their Round 7 clash with the Sharks and could not cope with their absence, falling 55-47.
Round 8 offered much easier opposition, plus the Panthers bolstered their ranks with NSW Under 18 rep Natalia Beaumont and NSW Under 16 rep Meg Jefferson.
Their inclusion, alongside NSW Under 20 rep Ellie Tofaeono and former state rep Rhiannon Pope, gives the Panthers the biggest front court in the competition and it was "mission impossible" for the bottom-placed South West Sydney Razorbacks, who were crushed 102-33.
Both Division One teams are on the road this weekend, each facing a very tough double-header at Bankstown on Saturday and Newcastle on Sunday.
The Division Two men enjoyed a bye in Round 7, then faced up to the first-placed Central Coast Crusaders in Round 8. A slow start put the Panthers behind the eight-ball early but the game soon became an arm wrestle for supremacy, with both sides having the chance to grab victory in the dying minutes.
Ultimately, the Crusaders would gain a 66-65 win but the young Panthers will know how close they are to the top-ranked teams, which should be a huge confidence boost.
Marshall Ndebele led the Panthers on Saturday with 21, ahead of Joel Klein 16 and Ru Daniel 10.
The Panthers have a local derby in Round 9, playing the Springwood Scorchers on Saturday at the Blaxland High School Basketball Stadium.