Battaile, Wilson lead Panthers to finale win

Feb. 25—A pair of seniors led the way for the Kentucky Wesleyan men’s basketball team on Senior Night.

Wyatt Battaile scored a game-high 27 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked three shots, and Jamil Wilson finished with 21 points and four assists to lead the Panthers to an 86-73 win in their season finale Thursday night at the Sportscenter.

According to KWC coach Drew Cooper, his team had to overcome some nerves and excitement to start the contest.

“I thought we had to put Senior Day and the emotion of the day behind us,” he said. “… We had to get that adrenaline out of us. Once we locked in and focused, we chipped away in the first half and actually went into the locker room with a lead.

“We didn’t play perfect basketball, but we played well enough to win on a very special night.”

Wesleyan (14-14, 9-11 in G-MAC) fell behind 10-0 at the outset of the game, but a 9-2 run allowed the Panthers to climb to within 17-14 with 12:14 left in the first half.

A 7-0 run six minutes later allowed Lake Erie (12-13, 6-12) to pull in front for a 35-25 advantage until Wilson scored 15 points in a 17-5 barrage — with Wilson’s 3-pointer seconds before halftime giving the Panthers a 42-40 edge at intermission.

The Storm drew within 57-55 on a pair of Jordan Burton free throws with 13:15 left, but the Panthers answered with a 12-2 run for a 12-point advantage. KWC extended its lead to as many as 14 points on three occasions down the stretch, and Lake Erie never threatened from there.

Cooper credited Wilson and Battaile for keeping the Panthers within striking distance in the first half.

“There were points where Jamil and Wyatt were just a tremendous spark in the first half,” he said. “Jamil coming in off the bench and getting to the rim there. Jamil played one of his best games as a Panther when it comes to providing an offensive spark.

“As bad as that first part of the first half was, Wyatt hit back and hit back and kept us hanging around there. It was frustrating getting over the hump and getting that lead, but once we had it, our guys were very, very confident.”

Ben Sisson also produced 15 points and five rebounds for KWC and Jordan Roland finished with 12 points and a game-high six assists.

The Panthers shot 47.4% from the field, 9-of-24 from 3-point range (37.5%) and 23-of-28 at the free-throw line (82.1%) with eight turnovers. KWC won the edge in rebounding (35-34), second-chance points (6-2), fastbreak scoring (13-10) and bench production (28-17).

Kevin Peterson scored 17 points to pace the Storm, Burton added 16 points, Jackson Burdyshaw posted 13 points, and Leon Hughes and Jonny Manning tallied 10 points apiece.

Lake Erie shot 44.6% from the floor, 8-of-22 from beyond the arc (36.4%) and 7-of-11 at the foul line (63.6%) with 12 turnovers. The Storm claimed the lead in paint scoring (40-28) and points off turnovers (15-8).

The contest was the last in a Wesleyan uniform for Battaile, Wilson and fellow senior Nathan Boyle, and Cooper was pleased to send them off with a victory.

“I’m just really happy to finish the season on a nice note,” he said. “It was a special night, just internally — one of those nights where your efforts as coaches and players that are here validate that we’re on a good track.

“I love our program, and I love our kids. I’m a very, very lucky guy.”

LAKE ERIE 40 33 — 73


Lake Erie (73) — Peterson 17, Burton 16, Burdyshaw 13, Hughes 10, Manning 10, Wright 3, Brooks 2, Williams 2.

Kentucky Wesleyan (86) — Battaile 27, Wilson 21, Sisson 15, Roland 12, Boyle 5, Thomas 4, Boyd 2.