The Times photos by Bob Cross 
Jonah Welch (23) puts up a layup for the Rocks.
The Times photos by Bob Cross
Jonah Welch (23) puts up a layup for the Rocks.

ARCADIA – Westfield head coach Shane Sumpter made a change to his starting lineup on Friday night. Based on the results of the game, the change is likely to become a permanent one.

In his first start of the season, Westfield guard Aaron Bennett tallied a double-double finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Bennett helped lead the Shamrocks to an exciting 66-61 victory at Hamilton Heights High School, spoiling the Huskies senior night in the process.

“I might start him next game too,” Sumpter quipped after the game.

Bennett came out hot in the first half making 4-of-6 shots from the field including 3-for-3 from 3-point range. The senior led all players with 11 points and eight rebounds after two quarters.

Bennett had a good feeling in the run-up to the game.

“I came in right after school and shot, and I was feeling it,” Bennett said after the game. “And then during warmups I felt like I couldn’t miss. I thought the game would go well.”

To the outside observer, the 10 rebounds were maybe even more impressive than the 18 points on five made three-pointers. Out of the players that see the floor regularly, Bennett is Westfield’s shortest at 5’11. His tenacity on the boards did not surprise Sumpter.

“You would never know it, but he’s one of our leading rebounders,” Sumpter said. “He’s been that all year. He just has a nose for the ball.”

Another senior leader, forward Ian Kristensen, actually ended the game as Westfield’s leading scorer. Kristensen finished with 20 points including a ferocious one-hand dunk in the fourth quarter.

The game between the Rocks and Huskies was tight throughout. Huskies senior guard Caymn Lutz tied the game at 27 with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the first half. After a strong third quarter, Westfield entered the final period with a 43-37 advantage. The Rocks would extend their lead to 12 at 56-44 with three minutes remaining thanks to the Kristensen slam.

But the Huskies made a furious push in the closing minutes using an effective full-court press and a barrage of long-range makes. The charge was spearheaded by senior Max Wahl who knocked down three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the final two minutes.

But in the end, it wasn’t enough as Westfield (5-13) held on to the win. The Huskies (6-11) were led in scoring by senior forward Sterling Weatherford who finished with 15.

Westfield hosts Western Boone on Tuesday. Heights next plays at Lawrence North on Sunday.