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Blue Devils Gain Win over Westmont

by Dennis Bowling 

Peotone coach Eric Peppmuller had high expectations for a strong start with the Blue Devils’ boys’ basketball team. But, Peotone struggled losing five straight contests. Peppmuller finally got a win and was elated after beating Westmont in a nail-biting affair on November 30.

Blue Devil seniors Ryan Brewer (12 points, 5 steals) and Kyle Gasik (12 points, 6 rebounds) each helped Peotone edge Westmont 57-50 in an exciting I-8 conference opener in Peotone.

Peotone is 1-5 overall and 1-0 in the conference. Westmont falls to 3-2, 0-1.

“It really feels awesome to finally win a game,” said a happy Peppmuller. “We had a rough start. At halftime, I told the team that this was our night, and we were going to win. I am just so proud of my team. They just wanted it. They are awesome athletes that never gave up.”

With 49 seconds left and the Blue Devil fans cheering loudly, Peotone’s Caleb Hunter (8 points, 8 rebounds) nailed a free-throw for a 51-46 lead. Moments later, Gasik was fouled driving the lane and hit a charity toss for a 52-46 advantage.

With 23 seconds to go, Brewer sank a pair of free throws for a 54-49 lead. At 8.4 seconds, Hunter connected twice at the free-throw line for a 56-51 advantage. A Brewer free throw sealed the win, and the celebration began among players and loyal Blue Devil fans.

“This was a fun game to win,” said Brewer. “We just came out aggressive and took control of the game in the third quarter. Kyle (Gasik) and Dylan (Bettenhausen) were each on their game. Kyle (Gasik) has that drive to win. When the ball is in his hands, great things will happen. Caleb (Hunter) plays great defense and is an offensive threat.”

Westmont had a 24-20 halftime lead, but to start the third quarter, the Blue Devils went trey happy. Dylan Bettenhausen (9 points) and Gasik each made three-pointers to tie the score at 29-all. With the score tied at 31-all, Peotone’s Danny Walsh’s trey made it 34-31. A Gasik layup pushed the Blue Devils margin to 36-31.

With Peotone holding a 36-33 advantage, Dylan Bettenhausen and Gasik each made threes to make it 42-33. The Blue Devils Logan Heflin (10 points) capped the 8-0 run with a layup making it 44-33 at the close of the third quarter.

“We had to come out and play hard in the third quarter,” said Gasik. “After we made some treys, everyone started to make their shots. This was a great first win. It was very exciting. Westmont is one of the best teams in our conference. Caleb (Hunter) was helping out everywhere on the floor. He did have a lot of mismatches, too. We always try to keep the ball in Ryan’s (Brewer) hands.”

Brewer and Gasik baskets opened the final stanza to extend the Blue Devil lead to 48-35. Moments later, Hunter stopped a 7-0 Westmont run as he sank a pair of free throws for a 50-42 advantage. Peotone managed to hold the lead throughout the fourth quarter.

In the junior varsity contest, Westmont beat Peotone 59-29. Austin Massat led the Blue Devils with 11 points. Cody Maue and Dan Zaida each had four points for Peotone. Jon Sears added three points.

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