Baldwin and Brentwood Boys basketball teams in hunt for playoffs

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Sunday January 23, 2022 | 11:01 a.m.


The Baldwin boys’ basketball team recorded one of their biggest victories in recent memory, defeating host Bethel Park, 86-66, on January 18 in a crucial Division 2-6A game. .

James Wesling, a sharp-shooting 6-foot-1 junior guard, was sensational for the Highlanders, scoring a career-high 48 points.

The Highlanders’ 20-point victory created a stalemate at the top of the section. Four teams — Baldwin, Bethel Park, Upper St. Clair and Mt. Lebanon — finished the first half of section play with 3-2 records.

Baldwin improved to 8-5 overall.

“My team has had its ups and downs this year,” Baldwin coach Jeff Ackermann said. “We played very well at times, and we had games where we struggled for a quarter or a half.

“Our goals are to definitely make the playoffs and try to compete for a section championship. Our section is wide open this year. We’re hanging on right now.

Baldwin, who started with a 4-1 record this season, lost his first two section games to Upper St. Clair and Mt. Lebanon before picking up back-to-back wins over Canon-McMillan, Peters Township and Bethel Park.

The Highlanders are led by the back tandem of Wesling and sophomore point guard Nathan Richards, who scored 12 points against Bethel Park.

“We were hoping this year that James would take his overall game to another level,” Ackermann said, “and he definitely did that for us. Plus, we had hoped that Nate would be able to run the show and distribute the ball and to score when we need it, and he’s been great this year for us as well.

“We still need other guys to step up for us. We have a lot of guys that we feel haven’t played to their full potential, so we think we can play much, much better this year.

Wesling scored a game-high 24 points in his side’s 66-49 win on Jan. 14 at home to Peters Township.

Other Highlanders starters are Richards and junior Joey Carr in the backcourt, with seniors Jordan Brophy and Connor Gitzen in the frontcourt. Carr scored 14 points against Peters Township.

Major contributors from the bench for the purple and white have included freshman goaltender Nate Wesling, junior forward AJ Cherico and senior forwards Owen Hutchison, Evan Lavelle and Nick Petrilli.

The younger Wesling contributed 11 points in the big win at Bethel Park.

Brentwood

It’s been a season of miniseries for the Brentwood hoops.

The Spartans went on a string of two-, four-, and three-game winning streaks going 9-4 midway through the season.

“It’s been a great season so far,” coach Dan Thayer said. “We didn’t know how things would turn out this year after losing a number of goalscorers over the last two seasons.

“The strength of this team has been to share the ball. We received contributions from a number of players. This group was a real team. Thanks to that, we played very well. This mentality also carried over to the defensive side of the ball. We helped each other to make sure the opponent was defended.

At midseason, the Spartans were in third place with a 4-2 record in the 4-3A Division, behind Washington (3-0) and Brownsville (4-1).

“We hope to continue to improve, building on what we’ve done so far,” Thayer said. “We want to make the playoffs and see what we can do when we get there.

“Our goals for the rest of the season are just to work hard to improve every day and to work every day to make everyone better.”

Seven different Brentwood players have scored in double figures this season.

“We have different top scorers almost every game,” Thayer said. “We get contributions from 11 players almost every game.”

Brentwood’s most experienced hoopsters, senior forward Mitchell Fox, senior guards Dalton Daly and Nathan Ziegler, junior guard Carter Betz and junior G/F Talan Kammermeier, are usually joined in a rotation that also includes Lamaar Williams, Josh Ziegler, Forrest Betz, Brady Fest, Shane Palmer and Tavian Miller.

Williams, a junior swingman, and Forrest Betz, a freshman guard, impacted the Spartans in their first taste of college basketball.

“Lamarr is playing for the first time this year and is having a really good season,” Thayer said. “He is improving day by day.

“And Forrest Betz is also very present. We were hoping he could play at the college level at the start of the season, but he has become a key contributor on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.

Tags: Baldwin, Brentwood