West De Pere stuns Seymour with second-half comeback
By Rich Palzewic
DE PERE – It was the tale of two halves in the Seymour-West De Pere Bay Conference boys’ basketball game Saturday afternoon, Jan. 2.
The Thunder led 41-26 at halftime, but the Phantoms stormed their way back to post a 60-56 victory at Seymour High School.
“We couldn’t do much right in the first half,” said West De Pere head coach Todd Deschane. “We looked like a bunch of elementary kids running around, especially with our defense. In the second half, we picked up our defensive effort and intensity and turned things around. I’m proud of the guys for fighting back. Seymour has great shooters.”
The Phantoms’ second-half comeback coincided with playing more 2-3 zone and feeding the ball to post player Dawson Nordgaard, a 6-foot-9 senior.
“We wanted to work inside-out,” Deschane said. “Dawson did a nice job finishing near the basket when we got him the ball. When Seymour can run its motion offense against man-to-man defense, which has been its staple for years, they are talented and understand things. Our zone got them out of rhythm a bit.”
Seymour head coach Bobby Kuchta said he agreed with Deschane’s comments.
“We were prepared for West De Pere’s zone, and I thought we got some decent offensive looks, but we missed shots,” he said. “The outcome of this game was determined more from West De Pere’s defensive effort in the second half. They picked up the intensity, and we didn’t match it. We did everything right in the first half – moved the ball, played great defense, had good post touches and finished in the paint. You can’t win many ballgames scoring 15 points in a half. We also had some turnovers and missed some crucial free throws down the stretch.”
With the Thunder leading by 15 at the break, the Phantoms began the second half on a 26-9 run.
West De Pere took its second lead of the game, 50-48, with 6:50 remaining.
The only other time the Phantoms led during the first 27 minutes of the game was after Michael Moran hit a 3-pointer to open the game.
“I don’t think we played well as a team in the first half,” said senior Lukas Ricker, who scored 11 second-half points and 15 overall. “Coach rallied us, and we got the junior varsity team rowdy in the stands.”
After Logan Griesbach tied the game for Seymour at 50-50, Ricker hit four free throws and a bucket in the closing minutes, while Nordgaard and Braydon Skenandore each added field goals for West De Pere.
The Thunder missed three free throws in the last few minutes of the game to seal their fate.
Seymour’s Mason Dorn, who is averaging 31.6 points per game, scored his team’s first nine points of the game.
The Thunder extended their lead to 18-6 after Evan VandenLangenberg hit back-to-back shots with about 11 minutes remaining in the first half.
Dorn, who ended with 26 points, scored 20 in the first half, including a steal and dunk to make it 28-18.
Nordgaard, who scored 18 points overall, tallied 10 in the first half.
Griesbach added 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, for Seymour.
“We proved we belong and are one of the better teams in the conference,” said Deschane. “Hopefully, we continue to play well and get better.”
Kuchta said his team has to put the tough loss in the rearview mirror.
“It’s a deflating loss,” he said. “We had a little time off for a two-week quarantine (because of COVID-19), and we have a tough schedule coming up. Ultimately, we want to be playing our best ball at the end of the season. We’ll see West De Pere at least once more (Jan. 22) and maybe in the playoffs, too.”