Baldwin, Brentwood boys basketball teams in playoff hunt

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Sunday, January 23, 2022 | 11:01 AM


The Baldwin boys basketball team registered one of its biggest wins in recent memory, socking host Bethel Park, 86-66, on Jan. 18 in a pivotal Section 2-6A game.

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

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

Baldwin improved to 8-5 overall.

“My team has been up and down this year,” Baldwin coach Jeff Ackermann said. “We have played very well at times, and we have had some games where we have struggled during 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 are hanging in right now.”

Baldwin, which started off with a 4-1 record this season, lost its first two section games to Upper St. Clair and Mt. Lebanon before reeling off consecutive wins against Canon-McMillan, Peters Township and Bethel Park.

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

“We were hoping this year that James would raise his overall game up to another level,” Ackermann said, “and he has definitely done that for us. Also, we had hoped that Nate would be able to run the show and distribute the ball and score when we need it, and he has also been great this year for us.

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

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

The Highlanders’ other starters consist of Richards and junior Joey Carr in the backcourt, with seniors Jordan Brophy and Connor Gitzen in the frontcourt. Carr netted 14 points against Peters Township.

The main contributors off the bench for the purple-and-white have included freshman guard Nate Wesling, junior forward A.J. 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 mini-streaks for the Brentwood hoopsters.

The Spartans strung together winning streaks of two, four and three games in logging a 9-4 record at midseason.

“This been a great season so far,” coach Dan Thayer said. “We weren’t sure how things would go this year after losing a number of scorers the past two seasons.

“This team’s strength has been sharing the ball. We have been getting contributions from a number of players. This group has been a true team. Because of this, we have been playing very well. This mentality has also carried over to the defensive side of the ball. We have been helping each other to make sure we have the opponent defended.”

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

“We are hoping to continue to improve, building on what we have 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 to just work hard to get better every day, and to work each day to make everyone better.”

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

“We have different high 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, usually are 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, have made an impact for the Spartans in their first taste of varsity basketball.

“Lamarr is playing for the first time this year and is having a very good season,” Thayer said. “He has been getting better every day.

“And Forrest Betz has also really come along. We were hoping he could play some on the varsity level at beginning of the season but has developed into a key contributor on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.”

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