STAWELL - Stawell Panel and Paint Wildcats showed a lot of promise in their first Country Basketball League match of the season, despite going down to Mount Gambier by twenty-two points at Stawell Leisure Centre last Sunday.
It was the first quarter that hurt Stawell and although they had plenty of the ball, the Wildcats just couldn't convert.
Reigning CBL premiers, Mt Gambier also took advantage of turnovers to race to a 22-3 lead at the first break.
Wildcats fought hard in the second quarter with captain Joel Freeland leading the way, shooting 10 points.
The side managed to match the men from South Australia, 18 points apiece and trailed by 19 points (21-40) at half time.
Stawell then slipped four points further behind in the third term and even with improving defence, the Wildcats shots still would not drop.
After finishing the third quarter with a three point shot, Wildcats coach Benny Leslie was asking for more from his players at the final change.
One of Stawell's new recruits, Toby Smith gave the crowd a thrill with quick drive to the basket, followed by a long three point shot from the corner.
Wildcats finished the quarter taking the honours 20-19, but it was Mt Gambier who ran out winners 51-73.
There were plenty of positives to be taken out of the Wildcats first round performance.
The team has been bolstered by the inclusion of Travis Peatt, Toby Smith and Dean Thomas, while Joel Freeland is continuing his solid form from last year.
Rory Jones has returned from the winter a much improved player, while it was pleasing to see Ryan Logan back on court.
Matthew Bourke and Jarred Ohayon were also stand outs, and it is expected the return game at Mount Gambier on Sunday, November 3 will be a closer affair.
Wildcats media spokesperson, Trevor Holmes, said it was a great game to watch and be involved in.
The club extends its thanks to all who assisted in Sunday's match at the 'Den', with a good job performed by all.
The Basketball Victoria Country (BVC) Basketball League took a large step towards becoming more of a higher standard basketball competition with the introduction of three man officiating system.
Sunday's CBL game between Stawell Panel and Paint Wildcat Men and Mt Gambier Lakers at the Stawell Leisure Centre saw one of the first games in the region refereed under the three man system.