Basketball: Young Panthers living the dream

The Penrith Panthers Youth League women’s team is currently living a dream, having qualified for the Finals Weekend of the 2012 Waratah Youth League competition, following a 74-58 win over the Hills District Hornets on Saturday afternoon at the Penrith Valley Regional Sports Centre, in an elimination quarter final.

The Panthers team is a combination of ages, with players from the Association’s Under 16 and Under 18 Penrith representatives originally backing up the older players just to make up numbers for a team.

That combination has undoubtedly been a success, with the youngsters now finding themselves into the Youth League semi-finals - with a definite chance to move through to the grand final.

The Panthers were bigger and stronger, with a line-up including four NSW junior representatives (including Australian Under 17 squad member Tahlia Tupaea) and played accordingly, never letting the plucky Hornets get within reach of a surprise win.

Just down the highway, the Mt Druitt-based Blacktown Storm Youth League men’s basketball team now has a chance to re-write history, having also won through to their second Finals Weekend of the NSW Division One competition.

The young Storm team surprised all but their own fans in 2011 by winning through to the Grand Final, only to fall to the red-hot Central Coast Crusaders.

Saturday’s win has set up another clash with the Crusaders, albeit this time in the Semi-Finals.

To reach the Grand Final this year, the Storm will need to once again beat the odds and this time roll the Crusaders in the penultimate game of the season.

There is no doubt the Storm are close to peak form, as evidenced by their 68-47 win over the Bankstown Bruins on Saturday afternoon, in an elimination quarter final.

Both the Storm and Panthers now head to the Finals Weekend, which will be held in Maitland this weekend.

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