BY RICH PALZEWIC
SUAMICO – You have to make shots to win basketball games and the Bay Port boys’ team simply didn’t do that Dec. 29.
The Pirates shot just 29.6 percent from the field in dropping a 45-44 non-conference game to the Kimberly Papermakers at Bay Port High School.
Kimberly went ahead by the one-point final margin with less than two seconds remaining on David De Valk bucket. After a timeout by Bay Port, Cade Johnson threw a three-quarters court pass to an awaiting Jack Plumb, but the 6-foot-8 senior’s three-point shot caromed off the front rim as time expired (see video to witness the final shot).
No. 2 Bay Port (6-1 overall, 4-0 FRCC) dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten, while No. 5 Kimberly improved to 6-1.
“The key to the game was us shooting poorly,” said Bay Port head coach Nate Rykal. “Kimberly was 21-of-44 (48 percent) and we were 16-of-54, which isn’t going to get it done – but it almost did. We do so many other things well that it kept us in the game.”
Besides the final margin, the Papermakers’ led on two separate occasions by a single point: once early in the game and the other at 43-42. The Pirates took a 24-16 lead into the intermission.
“We forced 15 turnovers and turned it over only seven times, but we had some key turnovers down the stretch,” Rykal said. “We played a really clean game for the most part and got some good looks, but we have to start making some shots. We haven’t two games in a row – the last time we got away with it and this time we didn’t. We have to shoot the ball better and be mentally tougher.”
Kimberly came out in the second half with a half-court trapping zone defense and it gave Bay Port some troubles.
“It slowed us down a little bit,” said Rykal about the zone defense. “The trapping on the top gets you a little flustered – you don’t see that a lot, so it gets you out of sorts a bit. We needed to take a deep breath there, do some pass fakes and move the ball around. If we had made a few more shots, we win this game. Our defense was excellent and we did a great job rebounding. Give Kimberly credit for hanging in there and showing some toughness. Like us they didn’t play a perfect game, but both teams played hard and got after it.”
The Pirates went up by 10 points early in the second half, but that’s when the Papermakers began their comeback.
Leading 28-22, Bay Port got a dunk by Cordell Tinch and a layup from Carson Schroeder off of an offensive rebound to make it 32-25. After Kimberly got to within 37-36, Ian Melchior nailed a big three to give the Pirates back the momentum at the five-minute mark.
With the Papermakers leading 43-42 with 18 seconds remaining, Plumb was fouled on a drive to the basket. The Iowa football recruit calmly nailed both ends of the one-and-one situation, which set up the final tense moments of the game.
Tinch (12) and Plumb (10) were the only two Pirates in double figures, while Plumb grabbed 13 rebounds. Deland Phillips and Melchior had eight and six points respectively.
Kimberly: 16, 29 – 45
Bay Port: 24, 20 – 44