After battling through a tight first quarter, the Greendale boys basketball team needed a spark in its WIAA Division 2 regional game against Westosha Central Feb. 25.
Enter Nate Thomson.
The sharpshooting sophomore guard ignited the Panthers with 18 second-period points, including five 3-pointers, and led a 25-9 surge that gave them a 46-27 halftime lead.
They never looked back and went on to an 80-58 romp.
The victory improved Greendale to 15-8 on the season and sent the Panthers to a regional semifinal contest against second seed Wilmot (17-5), the runner-up in the Southern Lakes Conference at 11-3 this season. Greendale won that contest as well as its next playoff game over Union Grove, 55-54, to stay alive in the Division 2 postseason.
Panthers hit 14 treys
Greendale head coach Ryan Johnsen can only hope his team stays as hot on offense as it was against Westosha. The Panthers lit up the scoreboard with 14 shots from 3-point range in 21 attempts for a sizzling 67 percent.
Thomson finished with six long-range shots, while Jordan Perez connected on four from distance, Braxton Joehnk three and Josh Michaels one.
'We knew (the Falcons) were going to play a 2-3 zone or something like that,' Johnsen said. 'We saw it on film. We just told the kids that you're going to get open looks. When the opportunity presents itself, take advantage and knock it down.
'They took advantage, and Nate especially came up phenomenal off the bench.'
Perez, the Panthers' leading scorer, set the tone early with 10 first-quarter points, including a trio of 3-pointers.
Central, however, was effective inside in the first period behind forwards Ben Graveley and Glenn Karsten and stayed within 21-18 after the quarter.
That's when Thomson went to work from outside.
He hit a pair of 3-pointers to lead a 10-1 surge that put Greendale on top 31-19.
Joehnk connected on another trey, and Thomson netted three more later in the second period as the Panthers blew open the game at 46-27.
'I was definitely feeling it,' Thomson said. 'My teammates were giving me the ball, and I was shooting really well. My teammates helped me because they gave me confidence.'
Johnsen said of Thomson, 'He was a real shot in the arm. He's a great shooter, and he's been doing that for us all year. It was a great opportunity for him. He took advantage, and that's great to see, especially from a sophomore.'
Perez had his surge in the first quarter, Thomson in the second and then Michaels took his turn in the third.
He opened the quarter with nine points, naturally including a 3-pointer, as Greendale surged to a 62-33 lead.
The rest of the game was basically academic as both teams put in all their players.
Thomson tallies 25
Thomson finished with 25 points, while Perez added 17 points and Joehnk and Michaels each 11 points.
Interestingly, the 14 three-pointers were not even a season best for the Panthers, who hit 16 treys against Cudahy.
The victory broke a three-game losing streak for Greendale with a pair of defeats at the hands of Woodland Conference West Division champion Pius XI and another against Pewaukee.
'We came into the playoffs losing three in a row, which is not ideal,' Johnsen said. 'Those were two good teams (Pius and Pewaukee). We think our conference is very good. We got ourselves some momentum.'