Balanced scoring leads De Pere over Notre Dame
By Greg Bates
DE PERE – It’s not surprising teams playing the De Pere boys’ basketball team early this season are keying on John Kinziger.
The sophomore came into Tuesday night’s game against rival Notre Dame Academy averaging 21.1 points per game.
When teams concentrate on Kinziger, De Pere coach Brian Winchester said he knows that opens up opportunities for the other players on the team.
The Redbirds had the best of both worlds against the Tritons, as Kinziger scored 28 points, and four of his teammates tallied nine points or more.
The barrage of scoring led to a blowout 84-54 victory for De Pere on its home court.
Both teams came into the game playing well – De Pere with one loss and Notre Dame had three defeats.
“The game went was a little unexpected,” Winchester said. “I knew our kids were focused, and we had a great day of preparation (Monday) in practice. I knew we were ready to play, but I didn’t expect the game to go quite the way it did. We shot the ball well. When we defend, rebound, move the ball and shooting as well as we did tonight, we’re a good team.”
Notre Dame head coach AJ Alexander echoed Winchester’s thoughts.
“It wasn’t what we expected, either,” Alexander said. “I talked to my guys at the end, being mentally ready, and from that start, we weren’t there.”
It didn’t start horribly for Notre Dame.
De Pere held a slim 11-9 lead before Maddax Shinners scored five straight points, and Kinziger added a pair of free throws.
The run by De Pere was pushed to 40-13, as it took a 51-22 advantage into halftime.
That big run was a byproduct of the Redbirds playing well on both ends of the court.
“Obviously, it was our offensive efficiency,” Winchester said. “The points per possession we were able to produce made it challenging because the other team has to match that. We handled Notre Dame in transition and not allowing many easy run-outs. That limited them and kept them out of their offensive rhythm because they like to run and they’re good at it.”
De Pere, ranked No. 7 in Division 1 in the latest WisSports.net Coaches Poll, drained 10 3-pointers in the opening half.
The team shot north of 50 percent from the field in the first 18 minutes of the game.
The Redbirds (10-1) stretched their lead to a game-high 34 points at 73-39 when Trevor Theado scored a hoop at the midway point of the half.
The reserves from both squads got plenty of minutes after that point.
Jack Jorgensen was the second-leading scorer on the night for De Pere with 16 points.
Shinners added 11, Will Dehn 10 and Max Donaldson nine.
Notre Dame (8-4) was led in scoring by Chris Mitchell’s 20 points.
Alexander said he’s hoping the lopsided loss will be a good thing for his players.
“The games where you get knocked in the face and lose a couple of teeth are some of the best games to have because it’s a wakeup call,” he said. “We had our games against Roncalli (Jan. 9) and Bay Port (the night before) – with both of those games, I talked to the guys about how we had slow starts. De Pere came out hot, and we were slow and cold from the offensive end. Great teams bounce back from these cold or rocky starts. We have to learn how to play our best game for a full 36 minutes on the court.”
Winchester called his team’s performance the most complete effort all season.
“Without a doubt,” he said. “I was happy with the way we defended. Most of our possessions were good on the defensive end, and that’s where we always start. From an offensive standpoint, this was by far our most complete night – the way we were able to move the ball and create open shots for everybody. We did a good job of executing some half-court sets we wanted to execute better than we have been.”