De Pere hangs on to beat Seymour in battle of unbeatens
By Rich Palzewic
SEYMOUR ─ This one didn’t disappoint.
In a battle of two of the best boys’ basketball teams in the area, sophomore John Kinziger’s driving bucket with 7.6 seconds remaining lifted the Redbirds to a 64-63 nonconference victory Dec. 8 over Seymour.
The Thunder got off a 30-footer at the buzzer, but it wasn’t close.
De Pere’s Will Dehn grabbed the errant shot, ending an exciting game with no fans in attendance.
“It’s too bad fans didn’t get to witness this one in person,” said De Pere head coach Brian Winchester. “Those last two minutes of the game with a packed house would have been wild. It was a great high school basketball game. Give Seymour credit ─ they’re a good team and had a good chance to win the game. We made a flurry of plays at the end to win. Neither team shot the ball real well.”
After Seymour’s Mason Dorn put the Thunder up 63-62, Winchester chose not to call a timeout with time running down.
“I didn’t want to give Seymour a chance to set up its defense,” he said.
The plan worked to perfection, as Kinziger drove aggressively down the left side of the lane after Maddax Shinners set a screen at the top of the key.
On the final possession of the game, Winchester said he told his team during the timeout not to let Dorn touch the ball.
“After John made his shot and Seymour came down for the final shot, I thought that was our best defensive possession of the game,” he said. “We kept everybody in front of us and did a good job forcing the ball to the side, which is a tougher shot than a straight-on one.”
Kinziger, who’s averaging 25 points per game, netted 27 in the win to match Dorn’s 27.
“We saw two good teams battling hard,” said Seymour head coach Bobby Kuchta. “De Pere is the No. 7-ranked team in Division 1, so overall, I was proud of how we played. We gave up too many easy baskets and didn’t play our best, though. Kinziger has great body control and came through in the clutch. He’s one of the best players around.”
De Pere held a 53-44 lead with about eight minutes remaining, but the Thunder went on a 13-2 run to surge ahead 57-55.
It was Seymour’s first lead of the game.
“When we were down nine, the guys could have easily quit and said the game was over,” Kuchta said. “I was proud of how they responded and came back. It was a tough loss, but we’ll be better because of it.”
The Redbirds (3-0 overall) jumped out to a 13-10 lead before Dorn stole a ball at midcourt and slammed home the finish on the other end.
The 6-foot-2 senior came into the contest averaging 34 points per game.
“He’s a scorer,” said Winchester. “He had 27, but we made him work for his points. He’s good with his right and left hand and has long arms. He’s got that floater from about 6-8 feet that is tough to stop. Sometimes he doesn’t get to the rim, and then he shoots that shot. He can also shoot it off the bounce on the perimeter. He’s tough to guard.”
Leading 17-15, De Pere’s Gabe Herman, another sophomore scored six straight points for the visitors.
“With teams focusing on John every game, we need guys like Gabe to step up,” Winchester said. “We have lots of guys that can do that.”
The Redbirds took a 31-28 lead into intermission after Dorn nailed three free throws while being fouled on a 3-pointer with time dwindling down.
De Pere opened the second half with a 7-2 run before the Thunder (2-1) slowly began chipping away.
Seymour travels to Shawano Friday, Dec. 11, while the Redbirds travel to Kaukauna Saturday, Dec. 12.