Pakenham respond to West Gate challenge

Hayden Melsen played well across the weekend for Pakenham. 410429 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS.

By Jonty Ralphsmith

Pakenham’s Youth Men remain undefeated after responding to a stern test against a bigger West Gate with a 76-64 victory.

The Warriors trailed by 12 points midway through the third quarter before Pakenham won the last quarter-and-a-half 38-13 in a statement against arguably their biggest challengers for the premiership.

From that point on, Pakenham won the rebounds 27-21 after West Gate used their size to slaughter the visitors early – still finishing +16 off the boards despite the Warriors’ fightback.

West Gate made just six of 32 threes, with Pakenham’s defensive application critical in the fightback given the visitors were missing easy shots.

“They are not a three point heavy team and we made them shoot threes,” coach Braden Venning revealed.

“We made them take uncomfortable shots we know they don’t want to.

“As long as we were able to secure the defensive board, we were outrunning.

“We got a heap of transition points late just by applying pressure and getting those deflections.”

Hayden Melsen finished with 20 points, while Tane White played seven crucial minutes as Pakenham mounted a fightback and Riley Browne has stepped up excellently in the absence of Riley Pollard.

The youth men followed a similar script the following day against a strong-shooting Craigieburn, winning 79-69 after trailing by five early in the last quarter.

From that point, the hosts went on a 13-point run which shifted the momentum of the game.

The women, meanwhile, went down 70-69 in a heartbreaker, outlasted by Whittlesea to kick off that double header.

Hayley Letts made two big threes in the last quarter and finished with three steals and four blocks, while Chloe Zielinski was enormous in giving Pakenham repeat looks, finishing with 15 points and nine offensive rebounds.