By Greg Bates
DE PERE – As Owen Stieber stood outside the locker room at De Pere High School, one of his teammates walked into the hallway and bellowed: “Owen Stieber for 3.”
As the only underclassman on the Green Bay Southwest boys’ basketball roster, Stieber receives a little friendly ribbing from his teammates.
But “Stieber for 3” was a common phrase coming out of the mouth of the De Pere announcer on Friday night. Stieber scored a game-high 18 points on six 3-pointers as the Trojans pulled off an all-important 56-42 Fox River Classic Conference victory over the Redbirds.
Southwest played inspired basketball without its team’s second leading scorer, Lucas Stieber, who injured his groin against Bay Port just four days earlier.
“The message has just been, we’re not solely dependent on one person, we got here together,” Southwest coach John Polkowski said. “It’s just next man up. We just saw a lot of guys tonight just respond. Guys that were in different roles, everyone was kind of in a different role. I thought the response was really good.”
Owen Stieber, who averaged one and a half 3-pointers per game coming in, had the opportunity to make up for the 13.6 points lost with his brother out.
“I was just open and I was hitting them,” Stieber said. “I guess I was the guy. It was more a team effort and we got a team W.”
Polkowski liked what he saw from his sophomore being able to hit six shots from beyond the arc.
“It’s something we see in practice, we’ve seen it in games, too,” Polkowski said. “It’s a lot of fun when he’s hot. When he’s hot we try to give him the look. It just helps everyone else, too.”
Southwest needed the win to stay one game up on Sheboygan North for first in the FRCC race. The Trojans are now sitting at 18-1 overall and 14-1 in conference with three games remaining.
Southwest took control early on as Stieber hit his first four 3-pointers to put his team up 16-6. A basket by Mason Ellis cut De Pere’s deficit to five, 17-12. But the Trojans answered on an 11-2 run to take a 28-14 lead into halftime.
“They jumped on us to start and we kind of crawled back in it,” De Pere coach Brian Winchester said. “We probably did a decent enough job defensively, just couldn’t get enough offense going.”
Southwest had one of its best halves defensively this season as De Pere struggled to get a basket.
“We held them to 14 points in the first half, that’s insane,” Stieber said.
De Pere (12-7, 9-6 FRCC) was down 14 points when it went on an 11-2 run, as Will Dehn drained a 3-pointer to trim Southwest’s lead to 33-28 with 13:36 remaining. The Trojans scored the next six points to pull away for good.
“I think we had a timeout and we said, ‘Alright, guys, we’ve got to go and get this one,’” Stieber said. “We came out and we spread the gap.”
The win keeps Southwest on pace to move into the postseason on the right note.
“We’ve always been a 1-0 mentality, just look at the next game,” Polkowski said. “Our first goal at the beginning of the year was to win conference and we’ve set ourselves up pretty good for that. I think that’s a goal we want to achieve first.”
Green Bay Southwest (56)
Ty Melchert 0-0 5, Cam Baade 0-0 4, Carson Landry 2-3 8, Owen Stieber 0-1 18, Ian Way 2-2 4, Will Pytleski 6-7 17.
De Pere (42)
Jake Kinziger 0-0 4, Will Dehn 0-0 3, Mason Ellis 0-0 4, Ethan Hohol 4-4 6, Ben Basten 2-2 7, Seth Andrews 0-0 2, Jack Coisman 1-2 7, Brad Nies 1-4 9.
Green Bay Southwest: 28, 28 – 56
De Pere: 14, 28 – 42