Panthers roll onto grand final

By Andrew Johnston

THE undefeated season of the Heathcote Panthers under 16 basketball side will continue into the Bendigo Basketball Association grand final.

After finishing the home-and-away season with a perfect 10-0 record, the Panthers rolled through the Strathfieldsaye Raptors in Friday night's semi-final by 16 points to book a spot in the grand final.

Zavia Roberts dominated play for the Panthers, draining 11 field goals and the team's single free throw in scoring 23 of his team's 49 points.

Riley Bruce with nine and Gabriel Bradshaw with eight points would also make solid contributions to get their side over the line.

The team will play the winner of the Raptors and Generals Mavericks who face off in Friday's preliminary final.

Panthers team manager Daniel Lawrence said it was a strong performance from the under 16 side.

"They had another really good game," Lawrence said.

"There was definitely a lot of confidence in this group that they are able to keep winning. They've got the results on the board already this season, they're still undefeated and they know they're able to get the win against anyone.

"They will sit back and see how the last week of the finals plays out and who they are going to be facing when the grand final comes around, but they will prepare well and be in a good position for when the grand final is played."

While the team is looking well and truly like the favourites for the grand final, there is already a feeling of excitement about the next level of competition.

"They're excited about the prospect of moving up to a new division next season," Lawrence said.

"They've played together for quite a while now, they've grown as a team and as this season shows they have the ability to play some really good basketball.

"They'll play the grand final and move from there. Hopefully they get to leave with a premiership, then move on to some new competition next year."