DeCleene drops 35 in Bay Port victory
By Rich Palzewic
SUAMICO – Bay Port boys’ basketball player Gunnar DeCleene had a career night Jan. 8.
The 6-foot-2 senior poured in 35 points to help the Pirates post an 88-82 victory over Notre Dame Academy at Bay Port High School.
DeCleene, who knocked down five 3-pointers, scored 23 points in the second half.
“Before this game, we had a few rough ones,” said DeCleene. “We played well as a team tonight. It’s not common for me to hit shots like this, but when it happens, it’s an unbelievable feeling. You feel like shooting every time you touch the ball.”
The Pirates (4-2) built a 12-point lead at the break and increased it to 20 (64-44) in the second half, only to see the Tritons (7-3) eventually take the lead back with five minutes remaining.
“We almost let it slip away,” said Bay Port head coach Nate Rykal. “We were rolling along, and Notre Dame came storming back. I was proud of how we responded after that. We’ll watch the film and see the mistakes we made to allow Notre Dame back into the game, but we made some nice defensive plays down the stretch.”
Rykal said he can’t remember any of his current or former players ever scoring 35 points.
“What a performance,” he said. “That’s a lot of points.”
In Feb. 2016, DeCleene’s brother, Dante, then a senior, scored 31 points against De Pere and hit six 3-pointers.
“I remember that game,” said Gunnar DeCleene. “It was at De Pere, and Dante made like his first nine shots.”
With Bay Port seeing its lead disappear and the Tritons leading 73-71, Brock Freeman and DeCleene scored 15 of Bay Port’s final 17 points of the game.
“Brock also had a great game,” Rykal said. “We needed him tonight.”
Freeman ended with 17 points overall, including 13 in the second half.
With the Pirates up 81-79 with 2:07 remaining, Notre Dame was called for an offensive foul.
After a Bay Port timeout, DeCleene converted on a three-point play to make it 84-79.
The senior guard then added two free throws 25 seconds later to end Notre Dame’s threat.
In an up-tempo first half, the Pirates seized command with an 11-0 run to go up 19-10.
Isiah Harris hit a three, while AJ Lieuwen had a pair of baskets during the spurt.
Garrett Grzesk, who led the Tritons with 26 points, kept his team in the game during the first 18 minutes by dropping in 12 first-half points, including a three-point play to cut the deficit to six, 21-15.
Notre Dame pulled to within 32-29 after Grzesk scored, but Bay Port ended the first half on a 15-6 run to take a 47-35 lead into the intermission.
Five different players scored for the Pirates during the surge.
After Freeman hit back-to-back threes and then added another bucket moments later to begin the second half, DeCleene then scored the next 11 points for Bay Port, which saw its lead increase to 67-49 with about 12 minutes to go.
The Tritons responded with their own 8-0 run, which prompted a timeout from Rykal.
After Harris temporarily stopped the bleeding with a bucket, Notre Dame scored 16 of the next 18 points to take the lead before the Pirates regained control.
Nate Forystek added 14 points for Bay Port, while Lieuwen chipped in with nine.
Danny Nennig and Emmett Lawton scored 16 and 11 points for the Tritons, respectively.
The Pirates host West De Pere tonight, Jan. 9, while Notre Dame hosts Roncalli.