by Eltham High School Journalism student Lachlan Everett
Eltham Wildcats 60 def by Bendigo Braves 96
Top performers: A. Kunek 16 points/6 rebounds, D. Ananiev 14 points, V. Panousis 10 points/7 rebounds
We welcomed back Alice Kunek to her junior club after her so far coveted career playing in France, Poland, a WNBL Champion with the Bulleen Boomers and now returning to the Eltham Wildcats she suited up with the girls against the Bendigo Braves on Saturday night.
Kunek was the leading scorer for the Wildcats in the first quarter but Bendigo were aggressive on offence getting to the free throw line 10 times (made 9) compared to Eltham who didn’t go to the line once.
Vanessa Panousis led by example in the second quarter with making tough shots, great contests and a hand full of rebounds, fifteen year old Dyani Ananiev netted 6 points in the term, Brigitte O’Neill had 3 offensive rebounds in the period alone with one of them being a clean put back layup. Bendigo’s class started to shine through as the rebounded well, stealing the ball and double teaming effectively with offensive cuts they kept the lead.
Maggie Mulligan’s defence stepped up in the second half forcing the opposing centre to turn the ball over while Chelsie Schweers was able knock down a few open shots but it was not enough as Bendigo showed their dominance behind Rebecca Tobin’s performance (14 rebounds, 3 blocks, 22 points) who was the catalyst for Bendigo’s win.
Eltham Wildcats 88 def by Bendigo Braves 92
Top performers: A. Doyle 22 points/7 assists, J. Sykes 19 points/8 rebounds, G. McKay 17 points/12 rebounds
Eltham started red-hot with Josh Skyes making a personal effort to make his highlight reel all in the first quarter. Ben Waldren and Geremy McKay were scoring well while Adam Doyle was the floor general dishing out 3 assists in the opening quarter.
Captain Justin Aver hit two 3 pointers in the second quarter with David Schaffert and Ben Waldren making 3’s as well. Josh was electrifying with a buzzer beater and high jump hook. The third quarter was a momentum changer off the back of Bendigo’s Centre Ray Turner who ended the game with 36 points, 14 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals and 3 assists. Eltham hung in the game hitting 11/11 from the free throw line but Bendigo’s Mathiang Mao and Tanner Rayner stepped up their defensive tenacity and 3 point shooting against the Wildcat zone.
A heartbreaking final quarter with Rayner, Mao and Turner having outstanding plays for the visitors in the term. The Braves won the game at the free throw line with Bendigo shooting 85.7 compared to our 53.8 (Eltham 7/13 Bendigo 18/21.
With such a small difference in scoring a few more free throws would have got us the win, speaking to the guys after the game it seemed that they thought they felt too relaxed going into the third quarter and may have eased the intensity. Either way the Wildcats had a tough match and made Bendigo work hard for the win.