Balanced scoring, depth key for first-place Broncos

Union Grove senior Jack Pettit (far right) drives to the hoop against Westosha Central. Pettit leads the Southern Lakes Conference with 18.4 points per game. (Earlene Frederick/SLN)


By Mike Ramczyk

No Riley Hale, no problem for the Union Grove boys basketball team Tuesday night.

With the team’s second-leading scorer and his running mate out with a pinched nerve, senior point guard Jack Pettit took it upon himself to pick up the slack – and there was nothing Burlington could do about it.

Pettit got inside at will and scored 23 of his season-high 31 points in the second half, and the host Broncos secured a season sweep of the Demons with a 67-57 victory.

“Going to the hole, mid-range and pushing the ball worked,” Pettit said after the game. “It was tough playing without Riley. For three years, he’s been my kick-out guy. I figured I’d play more physical and harder than I usually do.”

“I think it’s the first time in my four years we’ve swept Burlington.”

Union Grove improved to 12-4 overall and 8-1 in the Southern Lakes Conference, and it stayed ahead of Westosha in first place, by a game and a half. It was the fifth straight win for the Broncos.

The Demons dropped to 8-7 overall and 5-4 in conference.

Burlington jumped out to a 31-29 halftime lead, despite losing 6-foot-7 big man Brock Halbach, the team’s leading scorer, to an ankle injury on the first possession.

However, Pettit took over in the second half.

Despite the point guard’s array of buckets, a Trent Turzenski bucket cut the Grove lead to 57-53 with around a minute left.

But Burlington was in foul mode, and Pettit and Jacob Ross, who scored 11 points in place of Hale, knocked down enough free throws to pull away.

The short-handed Demons, who are without top player Nick Klug for the rest of the season, showed plenty of heart against the first-place Broncos in a hostile environment.

“We kept grinding the whole game,” Burlington coach Steve Berezowitz said. “We played really hard the entire time, but Jack was too much for us tonight. They’re good, that’s why they’re on the top of the league. We knew that. In the second half, we just didn’t convert as much offensively as you need to. When Jack is doing what he’s doing, it puts a lot of pressure on our defense. Scrambling is not our forte, and we were on our heels a little bit.”


Grove winning with balance

After turning the ball over 29 times in a loss to Badger, the Demons protected the ball much better against Union Grove.

But the Broncos complemented Pettit with balanced scoring, as evidenced by Ross’ 11, Luke Hansel’s 10 points and Dax Kramer’s nine.

“It was a nice, collective win,” said Grove head coach Dave Pettit. “Jack and Jacob Ross did a nice job distributing the ball to our bigs when they were open.”

“We’re not a great outside shooting team, but when they went to 1-3-1, it was a litte scary but we handled it pretty well. It slowed Jack down. Jack was getting to the rim and getting his mid-range jumper.”

Sean Safar led Burlington with 17 points and was very aggressive in the first half.

Turzenski added 11 points and 12 rebounds, and Nick Webley scored 10.

Pettit hit 10 of 18 shots despite not scoring for the first eight minutes. He also knocked down 11-for-14 free throws.

Pettit added six rebounds, four blocks and three assists.

Dave Pettit said Jack did a nice job off the high-ball screen getting all the way to the rim in the second half.

He said the key to the team’s first-place season has been a collective effort.

“We’re getting more guys involved in the offense,” Dave Pettit said. “It’s hard to guard us when everyone can score. The first half of the season, people spent time doubling our guards, but now our bigs are starting to emerge.”

“We have experience from last year,” Jack Pettit said. “Jacob Ross can shoot the ball now, and Sam Rampulla is playing more physical. Dax Cramer gives us more height after not coming out last year. Luke Nelson is a small big, but he’s strong.”

“The Westosha win was huge. We went in there as underdogs and just to have fun, and we won. Every game is valuable, and we have to keep coming out strong.”