Basketball

Pewamo-Westphalia boys pull away from Laingsburg in district tourney

Pewamo-Westphalia's Bryce Thelen, right, steals the ball against Laingsburg during their district semifinal game Wednesday, March 8, 2017, in Bath, Mich. P-W won 47-34.

Pewamo-Westphalia’s Bryce Thelen, right, steals the ball against Laingsburg during their district semifinal game Wednesday, March 8, 2017, in Bath, Mich. P-W won 47-34.

BATH — Heading into every game, Pewamo-Westphalia’s Bryce Thelen doesn’t know when, or if, he’ll affect the game on the offensive end.

He doesn’t care, either.

The junior is one of several players for the Pirates’ boys basketball team who can score when need be, and it’s that well-rounded scoring attack that allows Thelen to sit back and pick his spots.

Thelen, however, got his opportunities in Wednesday’s Class C district semifinal game against CMAC rival Laingsburg, and he took advantage of each one.

Thelen scored a game-high 13 points on the night and helped Class C No. 7-ranked Pewamo-Westphalia get past the Wolfpack, 47-34, and advance to Friday’s Class C district title game to play Bath, which defeated Dansville, 55-53, in the following semifinal game.

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“We have some really talented guys on our team, and I think everyone has a chance to go off every game,” the junior said. “There’s opportunities for everyone.

“Tonight, I saw my opportunities to drive the ball, we spaced (the floor) out, and I was able to go make some plays.”

Thelen scored eight of his 13 points in the third quarter, and his first bucket kicked off a 15-2 run for the Pirates (20-2) that created distance in the contest. Pewamo-Westphalia held Laingsburg to just two field goals in the third, and coach Luke Pohl said his team answered his halftime demands coming out of the locker room.

“We were disappointed. They got too many layups in that first half,” said Pohl, whose team was tied at 16-16 by the end of the first half. “We seemed to hold onto to the ball too long offensively. I thought we did a much better job of getting the ball around. And we wanted to drive the ball, and Bryce did a tremendous job of doing that.”

Pohl added that if his ball club wants to reach its goal of making it to the Breslin Center, it will need to continue to put its focus on the defensive end.

“That’s what we do,” he continued. “Your defense travels with you every day, as long as you bring it. I’m still disappointed. They still ended up getting a layup early on where the guy took the ball about 25 feet because one kid didn’t have his head on a swivel.”

The Wolfpack (14-7) entered the postseason having won four straight games, and the tempo of the game seemed to be in their favor through the first two quarters. Junior guard Nick Putnam, who finished with a team-high 11 points, connected on two 3-pointers in the first 16 minutes, which contributed to his team going into halftime tied up.

However, Laingsburg wasn’t able to match the Pirates’ crisp play to start the second half, and it ended up being the difference in the game.

“They just don’t hurt themselves,” Wolfpack coach Dan Blemaster said of Pewamo-Westphalia. “They took care of the ball, and we turned it over a couple of time. They must have talked about getting to the rim at halftime — we just couldn’t keep them away from the rim.

“They don’t hurt themselves, and it makes it very tough to play against them.”

Senior Logan Hengesbach scored eight points for the Pirates, and junior Jimmy Lehman added seven.

Laingsburg senior Jordan Jones scored seven points.

Contact James L. Edwards III at jledwards@lsj.com. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.

Pewamo-Westphalia's Ryan Smith, center, and Laingsburg's Nate Mentus (4) and Kam Brown, left, battle for the ball as P-W's Logan Hengesbach, left rear, and Bryce Thelen, right rear, watch during their district semifinal game Wednesday, March 8, 2017, in Bath, Mich. P-W won 47-34.

Pewamo-Westphalia’s Ryan Smith, center, and Laingsburg’s Nate Mentus (4) and Kam Brown, left, battle for the ball as P-W’s Logan Hengesbach, left rear, and Bryce Thelen, right rear, watch during their district semifinal game Wednesday, March 8, 2017, in Bath, Mich. P-W won 47-34.

Pewamo-Westphalia's Bryce Thelen (24) gets a layup between Laingsburg's Jordan Jones, right, during their district semifinal game Wednesday, March 8, 2017, in Bath, Mich. P-W won 47-34.

Pewamo-Westphalia’s Bryce Thelen (24) gets a layup between Laingsburg’s Jordan Jones, right, during their district semifinal game Wednesday, March 8, 2017, in Bath, Mich. P-W won 47-34.