PRAIRIE DU SAC — After picking up his second foul less than 8 minutes into the first half, DeForest junior Austin Westra easily could have felt frustration on the bench.
But the Norskies’ top scorer remained upbeat, waiting for his chance to contribute against Sauk Prairie on Tuesday night.
The 6-foot-4 Westra received the green light to return from DeForest coach Craig Weisbrod after halftime and scored 10 of his game-high 15 points in the second half of the Norskies’ 64-52 victory in a Badger North Conference boys basketball game.
“I was cheering on my team and making sure they were doing the best they can (in the last 10 minutes, 13 seconds of the first half),” said Westra, who also grabbed seven rebounds. “Then (after returning), I was trying to bring all the energy I can and help my teammates score.”
Sophomore wing Trey Schroeder added 14 points and 6-4 post Jarrett Klein had 11 points for DeForest (9-5, 4-4 Badger North). The Norskies, who moved into a tie for fourth place in league play, avenged a Dec. 1 loss to Sauk Prairie (10-4, 5-3) and snapped the Eagles’ nine-game winning streak. Sauk Prairie fell into third place.
Weisbrod knows Westra prefers to play as a wing, but the Norskies need him to play as a post.
“As a young guy, he wants to play outside,” Weisbrod said. “But we’re trying to say, ‘You are so good inside.’ ”
Said Westra: “I normally play outside in summer ball, but they play me inside because I have a big body.”
Sauk Prairie coach Levi Massey said DeForest’s collection of big bodies proved overwhelming for the Eagles, led in scoring by 6-5 junior forward Jack Henderson (12 points) and 5-9 senior guard Spencer Kostroski (10 points).
“Their physicality of how they play is very difficult for us to match with the smaller bodies we have,” Massey said. “They bring three or four guys who are 6-4, can jump and have thick arms and upper bodies. We have maybe a couple guys who weigh 200 pounds, if we are lucky.”
The Eagles also struggled because they committed 17 turnovers, shot 30 percent from the floor, permitted 14 offensive rebounds and only managed one set of three consecutive stops on the defensive end, Massey said.
After the Eagles cut a nine-point deficit to three in the second half, the Norskies went on a 7-2 run and led 39-31 with 12:26 to play. The flurry was started by Westra’s 15-foot jumper and 6-4 senior Bryce Duffy’s three-point play. The Norskies later built their lead to 58-44.
In the first half, the Eagles used a 10-1 run to battle back from an early eight-point deficit. Henderson’s basket inside, off a feed from sophomore forward Trevor Spray, gave the Eagles their first lead at 19-18 with 4:01 left.
After that basket, Weisbrod called his second timeout of the half, something coaches don’t usually like to do. “I use them, man, I use them,” Weisbrod said. “I don’t mess around. It’s kind of a joke in DeForest.”
The Norskies then scored the final nine points of the first half and took a 27-19 lead into the break. Senior Bryson Girten turned his steal into a fast-break layup, senior Sam Vomhof scored inside, Girten connected on a 3-pointer from the right wing and Schroeder finished the run with a basket with 38.7 seconds left before halftime. “We had to refocus and get back to what we wanted to do,” Weisbrod said. “We had an advantage inside. I felt our kids were really tough inside tonight.”
DeForest 27 37 — 64
Sauk Prairie 19 33 — 52
DEFOREST — Riggs 2 1-2 5, Girten 2 0-0 5, Westra 6 3-3 15, Vomhoff 1 1-2 3, Schroeder 5 4-5 14, Magli 3 0-0 6, Duffy 1 3-5 5, Klein 3 5-10 11. Totals 23 17-27 64.
SAUK PRAIRIE — Evert 1 0-0 2, Radl 1 5-6 8, Jorgenson 2 0-0 6, Breunig 2 0-0 4, Breunig 1 0-0 2, Kostroski 1 7-8 10, Spray 2 2-3 6, Vieth 1 0-0 2, Henderson 6 0-0 12. Totals 17 14-18 52.
3-point goals — D 1 (Girten 1), SP 4 (Radl 1, Jorgenson 2, Kostroski 1). Total fouls — D 19, SP 24. Fouled out — Girten, Westra, Evert.
Technical foul — Klein