Lane Simon scored 16 of his game-high 18 points in the first 10 minutes to lead Pewamo-Westphalia to a 50-35 win over Laingsburg in a battle of CMAC unbeatens on Thursday night.
The game was a case of role reversal for the defending Class C runner-up Wolfpack, who graduated four of the five starters from last year, and list just four seniors on this season’s 13-man varsity roster.
This year, they faced a P-W team (6-1 overall, 4-0 CMAC) that consists of nine seniors, including Simon, and two juniors. Pirates coach Luke Pohl said that experience makes all the difference.
“Seniors play with a sense of urgency,” Pohl said. “They know that every game is one less that they’re going to play. No doubt about it, seniors always play a little bit harder.”
Simon who had 10 points in the first quarter and then drained consecutive 3-pointers to start the second, virtually took the game on his shoulders in that time, even handling the ball with a dexterity not often seen by a 6-7 bruiser at this level.
Simon said that he had a little extra room to work thanks to Laingsburg’s defensive attention to P-W point guard Nick Spitzley, and was not by design.
“No, I just saw that the ball was going in so I thought I’d keep shooting,” he said.
“Luckily, it worked out for me.”
Laingsburg (4-3, 4-1) countered with outside shooting, with their first four field goals, and six of their first eight, coming from beyond the arc.
“It’s out of necessity because we have no size,” Laingsburg coach Greg Mitchell said.
“We don’t have a kid over 150 pounds soaking wet, it seems, but we have to find a way to attack the hoop and set the stuff up. I thought we did a pretty good job of it.”
One of those long bombs, the first three of Ryan Wade’s team-high 13 points, tied the score 6-6 halfway through the first quarter, but P-W went on a 16-3 run from there and kept the Wolfpack at arm’s length the rest of the way.
Despite the loss, Mitchell said that he was pleased with his team’s effort.
“I’m exceptionally proud of how hard we fought, he said.
“There’s not a lot of experience, but we showed up and fought and earned a little respect. We learned a lot tonight, because we competed. We’re not into moral victories, we got better as a team, but we have a long way to go.”
But effort is never lacking when these two teams get together, in a long-standing rivalry that is part mutual admiration society and part street fight.
“We know each other pretty well since we play each other quite a bit, three times a year it seems like,” Simon said.
“As much as you play, you kind of form friendships and stuff, but when they knock you out, you want to beat them, too.”