Kinziger’s last-second shot secures victory for De Pere
By Rich Palzewic
DE PERE – He did it again.
For the second time this season, sophomore John Kinziger’s last-second shot helped secure a victory for the De Pere (7-0) boys’ basketball team.
With the game tied with 50 seconds remaining, De Pere, the No. 6-ranked Division 1 team in the state, held the ball for the last shot.
With the clock dwindling down, Kinziger drove hard to the basket with his left hand and scored with 1.3 seconds remaining to lift the Redbirds to a 70-68 victory over crosstown rival West De Pere (5-2).
Kinziger also beat Seymour with a similar shot Dec. 8 with his team trailing by a point late in the game.
“I didn’t even think about that, but it was the same play we ran at the end of the Seymour game,” said Kinziger, who led all scorers with 23 points. “I planned to use the high-ball screen and attack to the left side. We had Will Dehn in the corner, so if I attacked that way and his guy collapsed on me, I would have kicked it to him.”
Like the Seymour game, De Pere head coach Brian Winchester didn’t call timeout at the end.
“I didn’t want to give West De Pere a chance to set up its defense,” he said. “Maddax (Shinners) was coming to the top of the key to set the screen, and John took it hard to the basket and came through again. It was a great high school basketball game.”
West De Pere head coach Todd Deschane was also impressed by Kinziger.
“He’s one of the better sophomores in the state,” said Deschane. “He’s a great guard and finishes through contact. His shooting range is exceptional.”
Winchester said he agreed with Deschane’s comments.
“John can finish with both hands, but when he absorbs contact, it doesn’t bump him off his spot,” he said. “He doesn’t throw himself into people where he can’t finish. He goes against bigger guys, but it doesn’t matter to him.”
The Phantoms began the game on fire from the floor, hitting eight 3-pointers in the first half.
“Shooting isn’t our strong point, but we’ve improved in that area as a team,” said Deschane.
Out of West De Pere’s first seven made field goals, four were from beyond the arc, including a pair from Ethan Heck.
Heck’s third three of the half gave the Phantoms a 23-15 lead with under nine minutes remaining until halftime.
Up 43-31 late in the half after going on a 10-0 run, West De Pere had its largest lead of the night.
De Pere got a momentum-changing three-point play from Jack Jorgensen, who scored 18 points overall before the buzzer sounded to stop the bleeding.
“During the middle part of the game when we needed buckets, Jack came up huge,” said Winchester. “He kept us in it and hit several big shots. He helped us get through when things weren’t going well.”
De Pere picked up the defensive intensity to begin the second half and began to close the gap.
“West De Pere is a good basketball team,” Winchester said. “They are tough, physical kids and finish well at the rim. They made everything they looked at in the first half, but we defended better in the second half.”
With 8:04 remaining, the Phantoms led 55-51, but the Redbirds scored 12 of the next 14 points to go up 63-57.
Dehn, who scored 13 points overall, had five points during the run.
With De Pere leading 67-61 with three minutes left, West De Pere had its own 5-0 run to pull within a point.
After a free throw by De Pere made it 68-66, Alec Schneider tied it at 68-68 with a driving bucket for the Phantoms, setting up Kinziger’s late-game heroics.
“Our kids played hard and did lots of good things,” Deschane said. “Fortunately, we are doing things better now compared to the beginning of the season. I can’t fault our effort.”
Dawson Nordgaard led West De Pere with 15 points, while Heck and Michael Moran added 14 and 13 points, respectively.
The teams combined for 20 made 3-pointers … 10 by each squad.