By Rich Palzewic
SUAMICO – Despite a game-high 38 points from Sheboygan South’s Josh Govek, the Bay Port boys’ basketball team won its third Fox River Classic Conference title in the last four seasons.
The Pirates had six players score nine points or more in an 87-71 victory over the Redwings Feb. 27 at Bay Port High School.
“It’s a good thing we have a bunch of guys who can play defense and can score,” said Bay Port head coach Nate Rykal on senior night. “When a guy is making tough shots like Govek was, it was impressive. We made him work for everything he had – he’s so quick. You have to tip your cap to him.”
Govek was 11-of-19 from the field and a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line.
“We had Logan [Geissler] and Brock [Freeman], two of the best defenders in the league, guarding him,” Rykal said. “We played solid defense and forced South to turn it over 13 times. In the three games we lost this season, we didn’t hit our shots – tonight, we hit our shots.”
At 19-3 overall and 15-3 in the FRCC, the Pirates received a No. 6 seed in the upcoming WIAA Division 1 sectional.
“We simply play and get better,” said Rykal. “We have a bunch of good teams in our sectional, but we have some great teams in our conference, too. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some upsets in the postseason. Our conference doesn’t get enough credit.”
Andrew Thomas led Bay Port with 14 points, while Gunnar DeCleene and Freeman chipped in 12 and 10 points, respectively.
DeCleene’s points came on four three-pointers.
The Pirates also got strong contributions from Jimmy Jacques, Sam Plumb and Connor Vannes, who each scored 9 points.
Reserve guard Max Henkel also scored eight points in a starting role.
After Bay Port jumped out to a 22-12 lead, the Redwings closed the gap to 41-36 at the break.
South scored the first four points of the second half, but the Pirates then went on a 15-2 run to go up 14, 56-42.
The Redwings never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
“Before the season started, I said we were the favorites in the FRCC,” Rykal said. “I’m glad I didn’t have to eat my words. We needed some help after losing to Ashwaubenon earlier in the year, but it’s about 18 games. You have to give our kids lots of credit for being consistent and bringing it every game.”
The eight seniors on this year’s squad include Ethan Begotka, Jimmy Jacques, Cole Weber, Thomas, Bryce DeBouche, Henkel, Geissler and Plumb.
The Pirates will host No. 11-seeded Menomonee Falls Friday, March 6, at 7 p.m. in a regional game at Bay Port High School.
“They have a couple of guys averaging close to 20 points per game,” said Rykal. “They are an athletic team, but I think we can break them down defensively.”