BY RICH PALZEWIC
DE PERE – Just because the De Pere boys’ basketball team lost a fair of talent from a season ago, doesn’t mean they won’t be Fox River Classic Conference contenders this year.
After going 11-12 overall and 8-10 in the FRCC in 2017-18, the Redbirds hope a new season will bring new results.
“Last year, Bay Port was a team that was so talented,” said De Pere head coach Brian Winchester. “This year, I don’t see that clear-cut favorite that is head and shoulders above anyone else. The conference is a little more wide open, with five or six teams that will have a chance.”
Winchester sees Green Bay Southwest, Bay Port, Pulaski, Sheboygan North and his own squad as teams to watch in the FRCC.
The Redbirds started last season 1-5, so a better start this year is imperative.
“We did come out of the gates very slow last year,” Winchester noted. “This year, we start off with four really tough games. It will be a good challenge.”
De Pere will play Milwaukee Riverside (Nov. 24) and Stevens Point in non-conference road games to open the season, before hosting Sheboygan North and Bay Port in back-to-back FRCC contests.
Despite losing Patrick Danen (11.7 points per game, 7.3 rebounds per game, second team all-conference), Austin Allen (10.1 ppg, 5.5 assists per game), Ben Collette (10.4 ppg, honorable mention) and Bennett Laubenstein (8.7 ppg) to graduation, De Pere still has plenty of firepower returning.
Senior Brad Nies, a 6-foot-7 forward, scored at an 8-point per game clip last year, while seniors Mason Ellis and 6-foot-6 Jack Coisman also return.
“I think we will get up and down the court in transition a lot,” said Nies. “Once we get into the half court, we have some bigs down low to get the ball to and some good shooters on the perimeter. You can’t focus on defending just one area of our team.”
Junior returnees include Jake Kinzinger and Ben Basten.
Junior newcomers include Brady Hendricks, Ethan Hohol, Kyjuan Vengrowsky, Seth Andrews and Kobe Agu.
Sophomores Bennett Spaeth, Maddax Shinners, Tyler Graf and Will Dehn round out the 14-player roster.
One thing the Redbirds do have is height, with five of the players on the team being 6-foot-4 or taller.
“We are going to have to be a team that finds a way to defend,” added Winchester. “We will have to manufacture stops and works well offensively with good chemistry. Brad and Jack are really skilled post guys, but we have to find ways to get them the ball. We have a solid core returning.”
Parker Nash, Noah Patnode, Nate Baranek and Jacob Winter have also graduated.
For the complete schedule, log on to foxriverclassicconference.com.