Panthers Prepare for Bear Hunt
Panthers Prepare for Bear Hunt
The Penrith Panthers senior men's team has an enormous hurdle to leap this weekend, facing the might of the imposing Northern Suburbs Bears in Round Six of the 2012 Waratah Championship League (WCL) competition. Tip-off is scheduled for 5.30pm at the Penrith Valley Regional Sports Centre (PVRSC) Cambridge Park and both teams enter this game with vastly differing reputations. The Bears are the outright favourites for this year's WCL premiership title and contemptuously brushed aside the highly-rated Illawarra Hawks last weekend, winning 112-52 in spite of the absence of captain/coach Ben Knight. The sixty-point win over the Hawks was a sobering result for every other team in the competition and highlighted the depth of talent in the Bears squad, should anyone still be in any doubt. Current Sydney Kings NBL Development Players Tom Wright, Jarrod Weeks and Tanner Kerry are all playing in red-hot form, with the latter simply outstanding against the Hawks. Kerry dominated in the paint against the Hawks and his presence in this weekend's game, along with the return of former Panther and NBL journey-man Knight, spells trouble - in capital letters - for the Panthers on the boards. There are many and varied challenges for Penrith head coach Jeff Cooper and his team this Saturday night and the absence of starting-five point guard Josh Morehead just adds an extra (and unwanted) dimension to that challenge. Morehead was injured in last weekend's 87-59 loss to the Central Coast Crusaders and his early departure coincided with the Panthers poor second half performance. The Panthers led 15-13 in the first quarter but with the loss of Morehead, fell quickly behind to trail 40-31 at half time and 66-45 at the end of the third quarter. Apart from the loss of Morehead, the single biggest factor in the Panthers heavy loss on Saturday night was, however, an inability to control the boards. The Crusaders' twin towers of Callum Jenkins and Jason Taylor dominated in the paint at both ends of the court and that chink in the Panthers armour will once again be heavily targeted by Bears this Saturday. Speaking about last Saturday's loss to the Crusaders, coach Cooper said "We got a basketball lesson today in the second half". "We lost Josh (Morehead) in the second quarter with an ankle injury but poor discipline and turnovers were costly, as well as being beaten on the boards". The Penrith Youth League men were also on the Central Coast last weekend and put in a good effort against last year's premiers before falling 89-80. Penrith head coach Steve Sardi said "Any loss is disappointing but the biggest disappointment was our lack of defence". "At this level we need to do a much better job every quarter and we missed, way too many baskets under the ring". "We learnt a big lesson today and I look forward to our practice session this week to make the necessary adjustments" said Sardi. Championship League: Central Coast Crusaders 87 (Callum Jenkins 22 points, 17 boards; Jason Taylor 20 points, 12 boards; Norman Shoaib 14 points; Stefan Blaszczynski 14) def Penrith Panthers 59 (Ben Ellsworth 13 points, Svetomir (Steve) Gavrilovic 11, Bruce Wells 8). Youth League: Central Coast Crusaders 89 def Penrith Panthers 80 (Ben Wagenfeller 27 points, Curtleigh Albertyn 20, Madol Chol 11) PHOTO: Panthers YL head coach Steve Sardi (front) has his young team firing in 2012 - photo by Noel Rowsell (www.photoexcellence.com.au)
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