By Greg Bates
SEYMOUR – It was a heavyweight fight with big midseason implications.
The Seymour boys’ basketball team, ranked No. 3 in Division 2 in the latest WisSports.net Coaches Poll, hosted No. 8-ranked West De Pere with first place in the Bay Conference on the line.
It proved to be an uphill climb most of the game for the Phantoms.
West De Pere cut its deficit to three, 48-45, midway through the second half, but Seymour scored the next seven points in a 70-61 victory at home Jan. 23.
“Our kids battled – they always do,” first-year West De Pere head coach Todd Deschane said. “They’re a gritty group of kids. Overall, we gave up too many second-chance points. They got a lot of offensive putbacks or kick-outs for looks. We have to figure it out and get a little bit better.”
Seymour, which is the only undefeated team left in Division 2, got a big game from junior guard Mason Dorn.
He came into the contest seventh in the state in scoring and went off for 28 points, 19 in the second half.
West De Pere played such strong first-half defense that Dorn and Riley Murphy – the team’s top two scorers at a combined 42 points per game – were held to 12 points.
“Dorn is a heck of a player,” said West De Pere senior Marcus VanVreede, who scored 15 points.
Murphy hit one field goal on the night and finished with a season-low six points.
“It’s one game in a season, but the fact they were 12-1 and we were 12-0, this gives us a little cushion going into the second half,” Seymour coach Jon Murphy said. “I’m not sure we have our ‘A’ game tonight, and I do believe West De Pere had something to do with that. They were physical with Mason, and they chased Riley all over. They made everything a struggle.”
West De Pere had a good inside-outside game with VanVreede and Dawson Nordgaard.
The junior big man, who battled foul trouble, finished with 14 of his 18 points in the final half.
“Without that size, it didn’t help us in the paint,” VanVreede said. “When Dawson he was in, we tried to get it into him as much as we could.”
Seymour got a big game from 6-foot-4 small forward Peyton VanDeHei, who came through with 15 points and 12 rebounds, with a number of those boards on the offensive glass.
“He does the dirty work for them,” Deschane said. “He’s their glue guy in that situation. He slipped through, and we didn’t do a good job getting body contact on him.”
West De Pere (12-2, 5-2 Bay) took its first lead of the game, 7-5, as Brady Darrow drained a 3-pointer.
Seymour responded with an 11-2 run.
The Phantoms came back and scored 12 of the next 16 points to go up 21-20.
Michael Moran hit a three as the two teams went into halftime tied at 31-31.
Seymour (13-0, 7-0) built an eight-point lead, 41-33, out of the break, but West De Pere wasn’t going away.
A three-pointer by Moran made it 48-45 with 9:06 remaining in the game.
Dorn then scored 13 straight points during a stretch to put up Seymour 55-45.
West De Pere couldn’t get closer than seven points because Seymour hit 6-of-9 free throws down the stretch.
Deschane said playing a great team like Seymour will be invaluable for the rest of the season.
“They’re a litmus test for anybody,” he said. “As a program, we wanted to see where we’re at, and we understood we have lots of work to do to continue to get better.”
Seymour and West De Pere will square off in a rematch at West De Pere on Thursday, Feb. 27.
“We have to work harder, get back to practice and get ready for the next one,” VanVreede said. “We’ll see them back in a few weeks, so it should be a good one.”