Gehlen boys basketball shares the scoring in win over Akron-Westfield

Friday, December 9, 2022
(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Gehlen Catholic’s Keaten Bonderson goes up for a basket in the team’s win over Akron-Westfield. Bonderson scored 15 of his 17 points in the first quarter to help the Jays to an 18 point first quarter advantage.

LE MARS — The Gehlen Catholic boys basketball team got off to a fast start in their War Eagle Conference contest against Akron-Westfield on Tuesday and ended up winning by a final score of 84-54.

“I was pretty happy at all four quarters,” Gehlen Head Coach Mike Langel said. “We didn’t really have too many letdowns. It was a nice all-around game.”

The Jays closed the first quarter on a 20-3 run to take a 27-9 lead after the first eight minutes of action. Keaten Bonderson led the charge in helping the Jays build up their big lead as he scored 15 of his team-leading 17 points in the opening quarter.

“I thought Bondo did a nice job, he came out and hit some quick buckets in that first quarter and got things rolling right away,” Langel said. “I thought our defense stepped up in the first quarter and set the tone.”

The scoring continued at a high pace in the second quarter with Gehlen winning the frame 22-19 to extend their lead at halftime.

Akron-Westfield Head Coach Chad Clay said his team’s offense was a bit hit-or-miss with good stretches like the second quarter but low spots like the first quarter.

“At times I thought they did a pretty good job of getting us out of a flow,” Clay said. “They put some full court man-to-man on us and then that kind of sped us up and we didn’t get into much of our half court offense. When we did, or at times, we can score it at a decent level. I think we still have a lot of work to do. We don’t screen great, we don’t cut great still, but we do have some guys that are able to shoot it a little bit better than we have been in the past.”

The Westerners did carry a bit of momentum into the locker room after Laytin Koch hit a half court buzzer beater which made the score 49-28 at the intermission.

Gehlen continued to pull away in the second half as they used their balanced scoring attack to add on to their lead. For the fourth straight game to begin the season, the Jays had four players reach double figures. Along with Bonderson’s 17, the Jays also got 14 from Ryan Augustine and 13 apiece from Drake DeRocher and Gabe Wiltgen.

“Like I’ve mentioned a few times, this senior and junior group get along really well and they’re really a bunch of good friends and they really don’t care who scores, they just want to be successful,” Langel said. “A couple fast breaks, making that extra pass and making that nice layup, it’s a crowd pleaser, it’s a coach pleaser, everything, because it just shows unselfishness.”

The Jays almost had five make it into double figures as Landen Reuter made all three of his shots, two from 3-point range, to end with eight points in the game.

Gehlen also received six points from Connor Kraft who led the team with 10 rebounds. Six of those boards came on the offensive glass which Langel said was helpful in giving the team second chance opportunities.

“He didn’t get in the scoring column so much but he gave us second shots that we converted into points,” Langel said. “You get six, seven offensive rebounds out of one guy, that’s pretty big. That’s what he likes to do. He crashes hard.”

Coach Clay was disappointed in his team’s defense giving up 84 points, but did say the Jays have lots of weapons to choose from.

“They’ve got a lot of different pieces, a lot of different weapons that they can score the ball at a pretty high level,” Clay said. “Defensively, I don’t think we did a great job against them, but part of that is due to them being pretty talented offensively.”

The Westerners were led by Tatum Wilken’s 15 point performance. He made three 3-pointers in the game. Koch had the team’s only other 3-pointer on his half court heave at the end of the first half as he ended with 13 points.

(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Akron-Westfield’s Tatum Wilken pulls up for a jumper in front of Gehlen’s Connor Kraft. Wilken led the Westerners with 15 points.

Jack Terpstra finished with eight points and Jacob Myers chipped in another six as all of their scoring came in the second half.

The Westerners fell to 0-3 on the season with the loss the first in conference counting games. Clay said his team will look to weather the storm in this tough early stretch of the schedule which will see the team go from seeing Remsen St. Mary’s and Gehlen to Unity Christian in their upcoming game on Friday.

“We don’t really have any favors scheduling-wise early on, but hopefully we can stay the course,” Clay said. “I talked to the guys and told them it’s a marathon not a sprint so we’re in the early stages of it. We don’t want to get too down or too up. We just have to ride this tough stretch and then hopefully it will eventually translate into some wins later on.”

Gehlen improved to 4-0 with the win and 1-0 in conference games. The Jays are scheduled to play at Trinity Christian on Friday.

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