THE Penrith Panthers stormed into the playoff series of the 2013 Waratah Championship League (WCL) competition on Sunday, with a commanding 96-72 win over the Parramatta Wildcats.
Penrith's debutante women's team made it a double, scoring a 55-49 win over the Wildcats women in the preliminary game.
The Panthers men have run hot and cold at certain times this season and, with the Wildcats coming off a strong 87-64 win over the Maitland Mustangs the previous night, the stage was set for a huge contest.
Penrith made their intentions clear from the opening whistle, racing to 28-13 in the first quarter behind the hot hand of American import Ben Ellsworth.
Point guard Ben Kearins and shooting guard Sean Albert both moved into double figures in the second term, as the Panthers increased their advantage to lead 54-31 at half-time.
Parramatta showed some fight to win the third term and narrow the margin to 22 at the final break (75-53) but Brandt had now also moved into double figures and sat ominously on the cusp of a rare triple-double — with another quarter left to play.
Penrith will now host the fifth-placed Central Coast Crusaders at the Penrith Valley Regional Sports Centre this weekend, in an elimination quarter final.
Women: Penrith Panthers 57 (Kallie Hovatter 17 points, 12 boards; Taylah Clark 10 points) def Parramatta Wildcats 49
Men: Penrith Panthers 96 (Ben Ellsworth 24 points, 11 boards; Louis Brandt 18 points, 14 boards, 10 assists; Ben Kearins 17 points; Sean Albert 15) def Parramatta Wildcats 72.