In an exciting weekend, the Panthers State League Men showed great tenacity and team spirit to march on to victory for the third year in a row and be crowned State Champions.
On Saturday the boys had to play Central Coast who had won 2 of their 3 previous encounters however, after watching the demise of Hawkesbury at the hands of Macarthur in the other semi final, there was a real buzz in the air and the boys looked ready to play.
As expected, the game was a battle in the first half with some great physical contests and scrambling defense from both teams. Josh Morehead got into early foul trouble and had to watch most of the half from the sideline but Craig Blatch, Sean Albert and Paul Tengdahl all stepped up for the team. Tom Dawson received a lot of attention from the Crusaders but was more than equal to the challenge with both he and Matt Slack rallying with some great blocks, boards and valuable points for the Panthers.
Penrith dominated the third quarter to set the team up for a great win and a chance to play Macarthur on Sunday in the Grand Final.
Penrith had not played Macarthur this year but knew they had to respect their shooters and big man Ryan. The boys were strong defensively in the first half and seemed to control the game early, clearing out to a reasonably comfortable lead however the second half saw our points dry up and the gap close.
Macarthur started to bomb away and get on the glass to bring the game all the way back to one point. With some nervous moments on offense and poor shooting from the free throw line the Panthers seemed to lose their way. Slowly but surely we started to make better decisions, get possesion and put the ball in the hole to edge away and take the title again.
Tom Dawson cleaned up the awards in State League receinving the following awards:
MVP, All Star Five and Rookie of the Year plus MVP for the Final
Jeff Cooper was named Coach of the Year and Ellie Junod the Rookie of the Year for State League Women.
Congratulations to all of the team members and congratulations and our Award winners.