Varsity basketball escapes with a win against German team Ehingen Urspring

A little close for comfort near the end for Westlake, they still managed a double-digit win against Ehingen Urspring (Germany), 65-55.

“You play a certain style for a bunch of games, and then all of a sudden, you have some guys, because of foul trouble, not in, and Matthew [Mayer] playing well, but he was still getting his wings in from the games he missed,” Westlake head coach Robert Lucero said. “There were some groups on the floor that hadn’t played together in a game this year.”

The Germans hung with the Chaps through the first quarter, but Westlake would step it up in the second quarter and went up by as many as 13 points and went into the halftime break up 33-23.

Out of the break, it was the Chaps that struck first. Matthew Mayer caught the hot hand and two deep three-pointers stretched an already growing Westlake lead to 15, the largest it would get.

Urspring fought back near the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, and with Westlake bogged down playing isolation basketball and turning the ball over, the German team went on a 15-2 run to bring the deficit down to just two.

Ben Gahlert was a key piece offensively for the Germans in the second half, scoring 13 of his team-high 20 points in the frame.

But senior Keonte Kennedy, who finished with a game-high 26 points, was the Chaps’ savior and arguably the player of the game, scoring seven straight points after Urspring’s big run to stem their momentum. Fellow classmate Brock Cunningham would ice the game, going a perfect 6-6 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.

“I think the guys are a little bit inexperienced taking the shots and closing out these kinds of games,” Urspring head coach Krist’s Plendiskis said. “I think we didn’t lose the game at the end, we could have started way better. We started a little bit afraid — I don’t know why. Maybe because somebody read in the newspapers that they’re a top-25 ranked team, but we saw on the floor that it was a game on the same level almost.”

Brock had been forced to sit down earlier in the game due to foul trouble, including a technical foul in the first half, which was a big factor in allowing Urspring back into the game. Unlike most teams the Chaps have faced this year, the Germans had the slight size advantage, helped by the fact that junior Will Baker was unavailable with soreness in his knees.

“When I went out of the game, we lost a big portion of our size,” Brock said. “That caused a lot of problems with mismatches and such. So just staying out of foul trouble is the key to keeping that lead.”

Coming from Germany, Urspring have not seen much North American-style basketball in the past, which has taken some getting used to. This was their ninth game in the States this year after playing a tournament in Las Vegas earlier in the year.

Likewise, it was a difficult matchup for the Chaps because they weren’t able to dig up much film on their opponents. Brock acknowledged that this situation will probably not arise again for the remainder of the season, but the Chaps were still able to learn a lot from the game.

“As far as adversity goes, it really helped us,” he said. “To go in not having any knowledge of what they run will help us in the long run.”

The Chaps finish their run of California games in the Rancho Mirage Holiday Invitational tomorrow evening at 5:30 in the consolation bracket final. They’ll face American Fork (6-4), the fourth-best team in Utah.

“To come all this way and to go 2-2 would be embarrassing, so winning this next game is huge for us confidence wise going into District,” Brock said.