Pirates hang on in season opener
BY RICH PALZEWIC
APPLETON – A year ago in its season opener against Appleton West, the Bay Port boys’ basketball team watched a late lead disappear in a three-point loss to the Terrors.
Not this year.
Despite going nearly scoreless for a stretch of six minutes in the second half and seeing a 13-point lead vanish, the Pirates made the plays down the stretch in a 64-56 non-conference win over the Terrors on Nov. 28 at Appleton West High School.
With the Pirates leading 47-34 with 12 minutes remaining in the game, West proceeded to pull within one at 48-47 six minutes later. Bay Port then closed the contest on 16-9 run to win going away.
“I kept thinking about last year when we lost that game to them when we had a big lead,” said Bay Port head coach Nate Rykal. “We made it hard on ourselves by taking some bad shots on contested three-pointers and missing free throws.”
With the game knotted at 50, Alec Nagel hit a big triple to put the Pirates up by three, before Cade Johnson and Deland Phillips’ field goals pushed the lead to seven. Cordell Tinch – who led all scorers with 24 – then hit two three throws with less than two minutes left to end a 9-0 spurt.
“That was a great pass to Nagel for a wide open three,” Rykal said. “I emphasize the wide open part of that instead of a contested one. We did a pretty job down the stretch of defending and rebounding.”
Despite the edge on the boards late in the game, Bay Port was out-rebounded by a 41-35 margin overall.
The Pirates jumped out to a 15-12 lead halfway through the opening half, which included two thunderous dunks – one by Tinch and the other by Johnson. Bay Port took a 31-27 lead into the intermission behind 14 from Tinch and 7 by Nagel.
Tinch slammed home another early in the second half and Jack Plumb completed a three-point play to bump the advantage to 39-29, but that’s when West started to claw its way back.
“I want Cordell to play heady basketball and I thought he did that (Tuesday),” added Rykal. “He can still improve but his body language and demeanor is a ton better than last year. He handled the crowd chanting at him really well – I thought Jack did, too – because that stuff is really important in not reacting to some of the things they said. He is a better leader this year.”
The Pirates shot 42 percent overall from the floor (23-of-55) but just 15-of-27 from the free-throw line (56 percent). Bay Port hit only 3-of-14 from beyond the arc, forced 17 West turnovers and had 11 steals.
Nagel ended with 12 points, while Phillips and Johnson added eight and seven respectively. Plumb pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds to go along with his 11 points.
Friday, Dec. 1, No. 1 ranked Stevens Point Area Senior High (SPASH) comes to Bay Port for a big early-season non-conference clash.
“They’re going to be hungry to beat us because we ended their streak last year,” added Rykal. “Joey Hauser and Drew Blair had 72 of their 79 points in their first game of the year in an overtime win (over Rhinelander). We need to do a great job of guarding them. I think we will have a good chance to beat the No. 1 team in the state come Friday. We will be better in that game than we were in this one.”
Notes: the Pirates ended SPASH’s 41-game winning streak a season ago with a 66-54 win in Point on Dec. 10. In that game, Hauser didn’t play due to an ankle injury.
Blair scored 37 in the victory over the Hodags, while Hauser had 35.
The Panthers are the three-time defending D1 state champs.
Bay Port – 31, 33 – 64
Appleton West – 27, 29 – 56
BP: Tinch 24, Nagel 12, Plumb 11, Phillips 8, Johnson 7, Schroeder 2.