Seymour knocks off rust, defeats Bay Port
By Greg Bates
SEYMOUR – Having 18 days off between games didn’t seem to faze the Seymour boys’ basketball team.
The Thunder had a player test positive for COVID-19 Dec. 12, and the entire team had to quarantine for 14 days.
Seymour then had three days of practice before its next game.
Bay Port came to town Dec. 29, a day after the game was originally scheduled.
The Thunder erased a one-point deficit early in the second half with a 30-8 run to post an 82-63 nonconference win between state-ranked teams.
“We responded well,” Seymour coach Bobby Kuchta said. “We played with lots of energy, and guys played hard and competed. I was happy with how we played, especially after 14 days. We looked better than we were (before that). That’s what you want to do – keep building each game.”
Seymour (4-1) is ranked No. 9 in Division 2 in the latest WisSports.net Coaches Poll, while Bay Port (3-1) came in ranked No. 7 in Division 1.
“It’s a statement win for us early in the season – our best win so far,” Kuchta said. “We had a bad stretch in the first half where Bay Port made a run and in the second half, the same thing – they answered. I was happy with how we responded after their runs. Other than those two stretches, we outplayed them for the rest of the game.”
Clinging to a two-point lead at halftime, Seymour shot 62% from the field in the second half, including hitting 7-for-12 (58%) on 3-pointers.
Both teams converted 26 field goals overall, but Seymour won the battle at the free-throw line, hitting 19-for-26, while Bay Port was 4-for-15.
“We played hard, but we didn’t play smart, and we didn’t play together,” said Bay Port head coach Nate Rykal. Maybe in spurts we did. When you play like that, good things aren’t going to happen. Seymour did the opposite – they hung together when things were going good and when they were going bad.”
Seymour got a good balance on the offensive end, with four players in double figures.
Along with Mason Dorn tallying a game-high 30 points and 13 rebounds, Caden VanHandel scored a career-high 15 points and Treyton Cornell and Logan Griesbach had 11 and 10 points, respectively.
“It’s a big win,” said Dorn. “They’re seventh in the state, and we dominated.”
Bay Port was led by Isiah Harris’ career-high 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Gunnar DeCleene scored 16 points and dished out seven assists.
Seymour was up 31-18 with 3:30 left in the first half before Bay Port’s offense came alive.
AJ Lieuwen had a 3-pointer late to pull the Pirates within two, 33-31, at the break.
The Thunder scored eight of the first nine points in the second half, as Cornell drained back-to-back 3-pointers.
However, a 14-4 Bay Port run, capped by a Harris bucket, put the visitors in front, 46-45.
That would be for the last lead for the Pirates.
Dorn scored 12 of his team’s next 16 points to put Seymour up 68-54 with 5:14 remaining.
After Bay Port had taken the lead, Seymour responded with a 30-8 run to pull away.
Seymour changed its press break attack and also got back on defense in transition.
“We were struggling to get back on defense,” Dorn said. “They were pushing the ball up, and we fixed that. That’s what helped us extend our lead because they were getting lots of transition buckets.”
Rykal said his defense lacked communication during the game-altering Seymour run.
“We forgot to switch twice on ball screens or didn’t communicate the switches, and they hit two 3s,” Rykal said.
Since one of its players tested positive for COVID-19 and the entire team had to quarantine, Seymour was forced to reschedule five games.
Including its game against Bay Port, the Thunder will play 15 games in about a month.
There will be five back-to-back nights.
State-ranked Kimberly (Dec. 30) and Xavier (twice) are still ahead for the Thunder.
“We’ll be tested, and it will make us better in the end,” Kuchta said. “Hopefully, at tournament time, we’ll be playing our best.”