Kinziger does it all in De Pere win
By Rich Palzewic
DE PERE – De Pere boys’ basketball player John Kinziger did a little bit of everything in the Redbirds’ 78-69 season-opening win over Ashwaubenon Dec. 3.
Kinziger, a 5-foot-11 sophomore guard, scored 32 points, dished out assists, grabbed rebounds and even recorded a key block late in the game.
“It was fun to get back out there and play again,” said Kinziger. “We didn’t get much time in the summer to play as a team, so I thought we came out with good energy. Our bench did a good job, too.”
Kinziger, who said he put on about seven pounds of muscle since last season, scored 16 points in each half and finished with six 3-pointers.
“I worked hard this summer lifting weights and getting stronger on my own,” he said. “I did everything I could to get stronger so I could get more physical with the guys down low.”
De Pere head coach Brian Winchester was also impressed with his young pupil.
“He’s added some good weight and looks a little more athletic,” he said. “He continues to develop as a basketball player. He got Ashwaubenon’s full attention tonight and still wound up with 32. He did a great job keeping his teammates involved and made lots of high-level basketball plays.”
Kinziger’s block came with about a minute left in the game on Ashwaubenon’s Kyle Krueger, a 6-foot-5 senior, as he was driving to the basket.
“That was a huge block and helped us keep the momentum,” Winchester said.
Things were nip-and-tuck early before De Pere went up 14-7 after Kinziger scored his ninth point of the game.
After scoring five early points, senior Maddax Shinners picked up his second foul four minutes into the game and headed to the bench.
“Maddax will be a key player for us this season,” said Winchester. “He had a tough matchup defensively with Krueger, who’s a very good player. We’re asking him to do many different things for us. He also rebounded well.”
The outside shooting of junior Matt Imig kept the Jaguars within striking distance throughout the first half.
Imig hit a trio of 3-pointers in the first 18 minutes.
After De Pere’s Will Dehn hit a three at the first-half buzzer, the Redbirds took a 41-36 lead into intermission.
“Ashwaubenon can shoot the ball,” said Winchester. “You can’t leave them open, and we lost their shooters during a stretch in the middle of the second half. Imig and (Marcus) Tomashek each hit a couple there. But during crunch time, we did a good job staying connected to their shooters, especially in the last few minutes of the game.”
Leading 45-42, Kinziger banked in a three from the top of the key as part of a 14-6 run to increase the margin to 62-48, De Pere’s largest lead of the game with 6:30 remaining.
From there, Ashwaubenon clawed its way back to trail only 74-67 with a few minutes left, but Kinziger’s block on Krueger slammed the door on any potential comeback.
Jack Jorgensen also dumped in 10 second-half points to help the Redbirds’ cause.
“I was proud of the guys,” Winchester said. “They were so excited to get back to practice a few weeks ago after what’s been going on with COVID-19. Once the game started, it was like playing basketball again. This game was huge for both teams tonight. All things considered, we figured out lots of things on the fly in the game.”
Winchester said he was proud of how both teams handled themselves during the game.
“There are people happy with us playing and people unhappy with us playing,” he said. “Both teams followed protocols with masks and did a great job. It’s not easy to play with one of those – they get hot and sweaty. The kids want to play, so they’ll do anything they need to.”
Jorgensen finished with 13 points, while Shinners and Dehn each added 10.
Tomashek, who drilled four 3-pointers, led the Jaguars with 24 points, including 15 in the second half.
Krueger and Imig added 16 and 15, respectively.