BY RICH PALZEWIC
SUAMICO – The Bay Port boys’ basketball team lost nine seniors from a team that went 20-5 overall and 16-2 in the Fox River Classic Conference in 2017-18, but head coach Nate Rykal expects his team to be in the thick of the action again this season.
Bay Port, who lost a 59-49 WIAA sectional game to Sussex Hamilton last year to end its season, will open the 2018-19 campaign at home Saturday, Nov. 24, against Appleton West at 7:15 in a non-conference game.
“We certainly lost a lot of talent,” said Rykal, who is beginning his 14th year at Bay Port and is 236-81 overall and 158-26 in the FRCC as head coach at the school. “I hope we just reload – we have some really talented guys that played junior varsity last year and have some good senior leadership mixed in.”
A season ago, the Pirates had the inside-outside game of 6-foot-8 Jack Plumb in the middle and the athleticism of Cordell Tinch slashing to the lane.
Plumb, who was the FRCC player of the year and is now playing football at the University of Iowa, averaged 14.4 points per game and pulled down 8.8 rebounds a contest.
Tinch, who was a multiple WIAA track and field state champion, was first team all-conference with his 13.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
“It might be a little different this year,” Rykal said. “We won’t be able to just chuck it into the post and rely on Jack like we could last year. He was also a great passer. We have to rely on our defense this season to create easy shots offensively.”
Bay Port also lost Deland Phillips (8.6 ppg, honorable mention), Alec Nagel (8.2 ppg, honorable mention), Cade Johnson (6.7 ppg), Carson Schroeder (4.5 ppg), Danny King (4.1 ppg), Lucas LaMue (4.0 ppg), Garrett Mooren (3.5 ppg), Ian Melchoir (3.4 ppg) and Isaac Krause to graduation.
The only players with any varsity experience this year include seniors Jake Plummer, Christian Kozak and Mohamed Salem.
Another senior, Logan Bruntz, missed all of last season with a back injury but returns healthy this year.
Senior transfer Chris Steffes has a big frame at 6-foot-7 and will be looking for minutes down low.
Juniors include Ethan Begotka, Chris Farrington, Cole Weber, Jimmy Jacques, Andrew Thomas, Bryce DeBouche, Max Henkel, Logan Geissler, Sam Plumb and Daniel Forystek.
Sophomore Gunnar DeCleene rounds out the roster.
According to Rykal, Jacques and Henkel will suit up for varsity games but will play with the junior varsity squad.
“We had a definite starting five last year with some really good subs,” Rykal noted. “This year, we are a deep team, but I’m not sure we will have the same starting five all the time. It’s going to be really competitive and be healthy for the team.”
Rykal said Green Bay Southwest is the odds-on favorite to win the FRCC title this year but says other teams can get into the mix as well.
“It was our turn to be the favorites for the last two seasons, now it’s Southwest’s turn,” he said. “I don’t mind us being a little bit of an underdog this year – it’s a little less pressure.”
For a complete schedule, log on to foxriverclassicconference.com.