By Steve Peterson
Some 48 hours after Valentine’s Day was celebrated the Akron-Westfield boys’ basketball team had a heartbreaker to end its season.
The Westerners fought hard for 32 minutes but the final minute belonged to Kingsley-Pierson as the Panthers ousted A-W, 60-57 Feb. 16.
A-W finished with a 7-15 record.
A-W had the lead as late as one minute remaining on two free throws by Reagan Frankl for a 57-52 lead. The happiness was premature as well as thoughts of a second round game at Gehlen Catholic Tuesday.
K-P put on the clamps defensively and went on to earn its 13th win of the season with a game-ending 8-0 run. It gained the final margin thanks to a three-pointer by senior Jordan Utesch, who had three points previously, with 44 seconds left. After an A-W turnover, Coby Fischer, who tallied 16 points, gave them their insurance policy, a hoop with 10 seconds left.
A-W had one last possession and Cal Eskra had a good chance with a baseline three-pointer but it missed.
A-W sophomore Nick Jacobs led the way with 20 points.
Freshman Frankl had a solid game with 19 points.
Seniors Eskra, Kyle Johnson and Austin Allard had six points each.
“The kids played hard,” said A-W Head Coach Jon Harris. “We did a lot of good things offensively and defensively.”
“There were a lot of wild scrambles for loose balls and they seemed to win them all,” he said. “If we had gotten a couple more of them, it would have been a different game. We had them but we had a missed free throw, a turnover and we could not put it in the hole at the end.”
“But, I’m proud of the team and the improvement they showed at the end of the season,” said Harris.
“Frankl attacked the basket well and Jacobs got his looks,” said Harris.
A-W bid adieu to seniors Cal Eskra, Austin Allard, Aaron Allard and Kyle Johnson.
“In this day and age it is unusual for four players to stick it out for four years and we appreciated their efforts and wish them the best,” said Harris.
A-W brought an intensity to Kingsley-Pierson Thursday as Jacobs made the first shot of the game with a three-pointer. He added another for a 12-9 A-W lead after eight minutes.
Austin Allard and Eskra teamed for a 15-11 lead, and it was still at five points on a hoop by Eskra midway through the second quarter.
K-P went to a more aggressive defense of traps and pressure but A-W was up to the task and had a 28-22 lead on a Frankl lay-up. It was 28-24 A-W at halftime.
A-W had a seven-point lead on a hoop by Jacobs early in the third quarter at 31-24 but a 17-7 run by the Panthers turned the momentum.
The home team led 41-38 after three quarters. A-W had lost its collective-shooting touch with a five-for-six “one and done.”
A-W did not quit, gaining a 46-46 tie on a hoop by Frankl at the 4:46 mark. A trey by Jacobs at 4:21 gave the Westerners a 49-46 lead. Jacobs’s three-pointer of the game gave the A-W fans reason to cheer with a 52-48 margin with 2:40 left. A Frankl three-pointer from the top of the key spot made it a 55-49 lead with 2:15 left.
But alas, as the buzzer sounded, it was K-P that earned the coveted trip to Le Mars to face the Jays.
The sun came up Friday, there was still a big girls’ basketball game to be played but for the boys, it was time to turn to track and field practice as a season when they fought hard from November to just past Valentine’s Day came to an end.
Jacobs: 20 points on 7-of-17 all field goal attempts, 6-of-13 three-point field goal attempts, three rebounds and three assists.
Conner Anderson: 0-of-1 field goal attempt, 0-of-1 three-point field goal attempt.
Eskra: six points on 2-of-12 all field goal attempts, 1-of-6 three-point field goal attempts, 1-of-2 free-throw attempts and two assists.
Austin Allard: six points on 3-of-5 all field goal attempts, seven rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot.
Johnson: six points on 3-of-3 all field goal attempts, six rebounds and one assist.
Frankl: 19 points on 6-of-8 all field goal attempts, 2-of-3 three-point field goal attempts, 5-of-8 free-throw attempts, seven rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot.
Aaron Allard: 0-of-1 field goal attempt, 0-of-2 free-throw attempts and two rebounds.
Quinn Bundy: two rebounds and one steal.
Team: 57 points on 21-of-47 all field goal attempts, 9-of-23 three-point field goal attempts, 6-of-12 free-throw attempts, 27 rebounds, 10 assists, one steal and two blocked shots.