WESTFIELD — Westfield boys basketball head coach Lance Fritz and his Pioneers wish they could have back the final 3 minutes of their game with Pardeeville.
Westfield was threatening to hand the visiting Bulldogs their first loss of the season after senior Nick Brakebush’s 3-pointer tied the game at 52 with 3:10 remaining, but the Pioneers never scored again. Pardeeville scored the game’s final seven points to escape with a 59-52 non-conference victory on Thursday afternoon.
“I thought we played really well for 33 minutes. That’s been our conversation,” Fritz said. “And really our last five minutes weren’t great for us. I thought we just kind of got out of sync of what we had been doing the whole game. We looked for shots and opportunities that weren’t there. We kind of forced some things. We didn’t stay within our flow. We just kind of panicked a little bit.”
Westfield (4-5) looked like it had all the momentum when senior Parker Peschel took a feed from Brakebush and emphatically threw down a dunk to trim Pardeeville’s lead to one at 50-49 with 4:15 to play, and then tied the game at 52 a minute later when Brakebush canned a 3-pointer from the left wing for the final of his game-high 22 points.
The Bulldogs (8-0) showed why they haven’t lost a game yet this season. Following a Westfield turnover when Brakebush stepped out of bounds while driving the baseline, Pardeeville went back in front when senior Jonathan Kamrath, who was one of four Bulldogs in double figures with 10 points, scored on a layup for a 54-52 lead with 1:53 to play.
Westfield’s second straight turnover — this time on an errant pass — gave the ball back to Pardeeville and sent senior Logan Zuhlke to the free throw line, where he made one of two to make it 55-52 with 1:21 to play. The Pioneers had a chance to tie the game again, but this time Brakebush missed a long 3-point attempt with 47 seconds left and Pardeeville nabbed the rebound.
Following a Pardeeville timeout, Westfield senior Dillon Steuck was whistled for an intentional foul with 29.7 seconds remaining. Bulldogs senior Nicholas Henke made one of two free throws to make it 56-52, and because of the intentional foul, the Bulldogs kept possession of the ball. They once again got the ball to Henke, who was fouled again with 28 seconds to go, and this time made both free throws.
Westfield had one last chance to close the gap, but Henke stole the ball with 22 seconds remaining and was swiftly fouled. He made one of two free throws to account for the final margin and Westfield was unable to find the bucket again as time ran out.
Pardeeville head coach Chris Lindert gave credit to senior Nick Cerro, who was tabbed with the responsibility of defending Brakebush for most of the night. While Brakebush did finish with 22 points, Cerro kept close to the speedy guard most of the way.
“Brakebush is tough to defend. (Cerro) really busted his butt all day and made his shots difficult,” Lindert said. “And I think towards the end, it took something out of him. Having to work hard all game to get his shots, I think, hurt him in the end.”
Pardeeville used a 13-3 run midway through the first half to build an early 22-14 lead. The spurt included five straight points for Henke, who led Pardeeville with 16, and four points from senior Duncan Fleiner, who ended up with 14.
Westfield finished the first half strong, going on a 9-1 run to take a 30-27 lead with 4:58 left in the half. Five of Westfield’s nine points during the stretch came from junior Kaden Roberts, who ended up with 10 for the Pioneers.
After Westfield took a 35-32 lead into the half, it was Pardeeville’s chance to respond. The Bulldogs used a 9-0 run to go ahead 46-40 with 10:35 to go. The run was capped by a 3-pointer from Zuhlke, who scored nine of his 14 points in the second half.
The Bulldogs remained in front until Brakebush’s 3-pointer tied with 3:10 to go, but the Pioneers just couldn’t get over the hump.
“We’re upset and we’re angry, no doubt, but there are some positives,” Fritz said. “We just gotta look back and say ‘How do we get better in the last three minutes of the game? How do we convert that to a win?’
“We’ll get better, because all these games get you ready for the tournament, and they get you ready for conference games.”
PARDEEVILLE 59, WESTFIELD 52
Pardeeville 32 27 — 59
Westfield 35 17 — 52
PARDEEVILLE — Kamrath 4 2-2 10, Henke 2 6-9 16, Cerro 1 0-0 2, Fleiner 6 2-4 14, Zuhlke 2 1-5 14, Landsverk 0 1-2 1, Schommer 1 0-1 2. Totals 21 12-23 59.
WESTFIELD — Thompson 3, Brakebush 3 7-7 22, Peschel 3 1-2 7, Drew 0 1-2 1, Steuck 1 0-0 2, Roberts 2 0-0 10, Stampfl 2 0-0 7. Totals 18 9-11 52.
3-point goals — P 5 (Henke 2, Zuhlke 3), W 7 (Thompson 1, Brakebush 3, Roberts 2, Stampfl 1). Total fouls — P 9, W 21.