Senior center Nick Goeglein has been the key cog in the middle for Spring Lake’s varsity boys basketball team this winter.
But on Monday, with their season on the line and Goeglein saddled with early foul trouble, a pair of youngsters stepped up and took charge.
Sophomore Keegan George poured in a game-high 18 points while junior guard Kyle Zietlow chipped in with 16, propelling the Lakers to a 60-43 win over Whitehall in the opening round of the Class B district tournament.
The contest featured the two favorites in the district, as the Lakers and the Vikings entered with a combined 28 wins against just 10 losses.
“I’ve been telling Keegan and Kyle that they’re not allowed to be role players for us anymore,” said Lakers’ coach Bill Core, whose team is now 15-6 and will meet Orchard View in Wednesday’s district semifinals. “I told Keegan that he’s not allowed to be a sophomore anymore. When those two are on the court with some bench players, they need to look to step up and make plays, and they did that tonight.”
Zietlow knocked down a momentum-building jumper just before the halftime buzzer to give Spring Lake a 31-24 halftime lead.
He then stole the ball and coasted in for a layup early in the third quarter to push the Lakers’ lead to 11.
George then took over with his deceptive speed to the basket. His three-point play made it 44-31 Spring Lake late in the third. He also made frequent trips to the free throw line, knocking down 10-of-13 from the stripe to help the Lakers quiet any thoughts of a Whitehall comeback in the fourth.
“It’s a great feeling,” George said of being called upon to step up his game. “I love it. I like taking on the challenge. I started off the season kind of slow, but I’ve been hitting my shots more lately.”
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