By Craig Beilfuss

KENT CITY–Pewamo Westphalia senior Jamison Eklund put on quite a show on Monday night.

Ecklund, a returning first-team all-stater, scored a game-high 29 points to lead the Pirates to a 49-46 victory over the North Muskegon Norsemen in Division 3 regional semifinal at Kent City High School.

“Ecklund was pretty tough tonight and he’s a really good ballplayer,” said North Muskegon head coach Chuck Rypstra. “Maybe we should have tried something else. They just kept going to him and going to him even when the chips were down. We really haven’t seen anybody quite like him except for Parker Hovey. It was tough guarding him.”

Neither team held more than a four-point lead throughout the contest. The two teams exchanged multiple lead changes during the game.

The teams were all tied 13-all after one quarter and 25-all at the half.

North Muskegon junior Jaxon Lisinski scored 15 of his team-high 19 points in the first half.  Ecklund, who is 6-5 and averages about 23 points per game, accounted for 16 of the Pirates first-half points.

The Pirates held a 13-12 scoring edge over the Norse in the third period to take a 38-37 lead into the fourth quarter.

North Muskegon had the lead with two minutes remaining at 44-42. P-W took the lead for good on a three-point play by Ecklund with 1:40 remining. Down the stretch, the Pirates were 5-of-8 from the free throw line to secure the three-point win.

No other North Muskegon player reached double digits in scoring. Other key contributors for the Norse included Troy McManus with 10 rebounds and seven points while Denny Belmonte and Adam Dugener each tossed in six points. Lamarkis Graham scored five points and dished out three assists.
“We were right there tonight,” said Rypstra. “Just one play here or there. Every possession was magnified. We had a really good season. Real happy about our season. Real proud of the guys and it’s always good to get a district championship. We just need to work a little harder to get deeper into a regional.”
Freshman Grady Ecklund also hit for double digits for the Pirates with 11 points.
Pewamo-Westphalia will face Grandville Calvin Christian on Wednesday night for the regional championship title. Calvin Christian defeated Blanchard-Montabella in the other semifinal game.

North Muskegon finishes the season with a 19-5 record.

Photos courtesy of LS photographer Brittlynn VanSingel