Panthers’ tall timber fires in preliminary final
A dominant display from towering pair Nina Smith and Jade Dimer has helped Panthers crush the Raiders under-18 development squad on Tuesday night as they secured a place in tomorrow night’s Albany Basketball Association women’s A-grade grand final.
Panthers were always favourites heading into the preliminary final but everything Raiders did not want to happen did as they watched their season quickly slip away at the hands of their polished opponents.
Smith and Dimer made their presence felt on the boards, helping Panthers to a commanding offensive and defensive rebounding advantage all night over their smaller rivals.
The duo bullied Raiders in the keyway and combined for more than half of their side’s total score in the convincing 19-point victory.
Panthers led by nine points early in the piece as Smith hauled in plenty of boards but Raiders dug deep as Alyssa Ward found her range and then Juliette Storm provided the perfect spark off the bench with two three pointers to reduce the deficit to five points by half-time.
The concern for Raiders was Panthers already had six players on the scoresheet by the break and they could ill afford a shootout with an opponent containing plenty of firepower.
Raiders were in foul trouble early in the contest and giving up two fouls inside 30 seconds of the second period summed up their troublesome night.
Panthers held a 10-point buffer for large parts of the last half as the game turned into a free-flowing, offensive match-up but the class shone through in the end.
On the end of plenty of quality dish-offs from star guard Kayla Thomas, Smith and Dimer feasted off the glass as they guided Panthers into a grand final.
Dimer finished with 17 points in a fine display while Smith added 17 points in an equally telling performance.
Thomas never really hit top gear but managed 10 points in the 62-43 win as Panthers secured their maiden grand final appearance in style.
They never hit a long-range basket and went at 43 per cent from the free-throw line. But it mattered little as Panthers set up a juicy title decider with arch nemesis Magpies.
Raiders clearly missed the impact of Thomas and Scamozzi and were haunted by foul trouble, not for the first time, while they managed four of 20 long-range attempts.
Ward was terrific in the defeat, her 15-point performance full of merit, while Storm (11 points) and Indianna Weeden (9) had good moments.
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