BOYS BASKETBALL: Grant Park rallies late, falls to Westmont; Central tops Wilmington
WILMINGTON — Every game is a lesson learned, no matter if you won or lost.
Monday’s lesson for Grant Park: Keep your emotions in check.
After pulling off an unbelievable comeback against Westmont, the Dragons were whistled for three fouls within the final 10 seconds, which led to a 66-62 loss against the Sentinels in the Wilmington Winter Classic.
“We didn’t give up, and I’m happy with the fight we showed,” Grant Park coach Bryce LaMore said. “To tie the game and nearly go to overtime was incredible considering the huge deficit we faced, but a little mishap in the end got us.”
Ball movement was Westmont’s game early and often. As the Dragons tried to figure out how to slow down the Sentinels, they quickly found themselves down 14-3.
Daniel and David Palan connected on back-to-back 3-pointers as they scored all 11 first-quarter points and trailed by five points.
Westmont’s hot shooting, defense and ball movement carried them through the second and third, as its lead grew to 51-31 into the final frame.
“We started slow and played slow, but that’s also full credit to Westmont,” LaMore said. “They’re the hardest team we’ve played all year because of how they switched up defenses all game. They made it tough for us to get in a rhythm, and it showed.”
Westmont seemed to have the game well in hand. Or so it thought.
Grant Park began its comeback with a 9-3 run capped by a steal and lay-in from David Palan, who finished with a game-high 19 points.
The Sentinels took the lead back to 60-47, but Grant Park fought back with a couple baskets from Will Schneider, who notched 10 points on the night, for a 60-51 game with 1:29 left.
With the game at 62-56, Logan Weissgerber buried a corner 3-pointer while fading out of bounds to cut the lead to one possession with 20 seconds left.
The Dragons forced a turnover and found Weissgerber on right wing, who connected on nothing but net to tie the game and complete a 20-point comeback with just a handful of seconds left before free throws won Westmont the game.
Weissgerber finished with 17 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter along with six assists.
“The guys hit a sense of urgency and realized they needed to get shots up and create some turnovers,” LaMore said. “They anticipated where some passes were going and got their hands on it. Logan hit some unreal shots. Every single one was contested, but he used his height to get that high-release shot and come up big in the big moments.”
Central 54, Wilmington 46
Neither team slowed down the offensive pace, but not many shots were falling down the stretch.
“We played well and executed on the offensive side of the ball well; we just didn’t finished well,” Central coach Brent Offill said. “If we execute and play hard, we’re going to be in a lot of tough games, but we need to be more consistent. Overall, I was pleased with the guys’ effort.”
Central’s Kyle Peters and Wilmington’s Ben Kreitz spent most the first quarter trying to one-up each other.
Peters scored 10 of the Comets’ 17 first-quarter points, and Kreitz had eight of the Wildcats’ 16 points.
“[Peters’] struggled with a couple things, but I told him that he doesn’t have to be perfect,” Offill said. “He just needs to be more aggressive and take open looks. We shoot a lot, and we need to start making these shots more often. He did that, and we needed that spark he gave us.”
Kreitz continued his pace by canning a pair of 3-pointers to give him 14 at the half. While Peters’ scoring slowed despite a game-high 16 points, Jacob Shoven’s began to rise up.
The sophomore paced the Comets through the second with six points, including a 13-footer at the buzzer to put the Comets ahead 32-28 at the break.
“He’s still developing, but we can always count on him for a big bucket,” Offill said. “He played really unselfish and made some good passes.”
Central managed to hold Krietz to just three points in the second half for a total of 17, and Shoven continued to get to the rim, finishing with 14 points on the night.
Wilmington turned to Cameron Holman for scoring. Although he netted eight of his 12 points in the second half, the Comets dug a deep enough hole the Wildcats couldn’t escape.
“We didn’t change much defensively; we were just more aware of where [Krietz] was on the floor,” Offill said. “Wilmington had a couple of nice players, but our guys did what was needed. This was just a good basketball game.”
All teams are back in action in Wilmington today. Central plays Westmont at 5:30 followed by Wilmington against Grant Park in the night cap.