Second-half run carries De Pere to victory over Bay Port
By Greg Bates
DE PERE – Bay Port’s top scorer, Gunnar DeCleene, had just picked up his fourth foul and was pulled from the game.
Upon DeCleene’s departure, the De Pere boys’ basketball team went on a 16-5, second-half run its rival was never able to answer, as the Redbirds scored a 79-60 victory Saturday, Jan. 23.
“Our defensive effort was good in that stretch,” De Pere head coach Brian Winchester said. “With DeCleene out, that was the point where we built a lead, and our defensive possessions were good – we rebounded well. Then, we got out in transition, and that helped continue to build that lead. Then, we had guys hit some big shots.”
De Pere senior Will Dehn had eight points during that game-changing spurt.
Without DeCleene, who came into the game averaging 16.2 points per game, Bay Port’s offense sputtered.
“Obviously, it’s a huge thing,” Bay Port head coach Nate Rykal said. “He has an ankle problem right now, too, so that doesn’t help. Coming into the game, he wasn’t sure he could play, so with a taped-up ankle, that makes a difference. You’ve got to give De Pere lots of credit for making shots and going 19-of-20 from the free-throw line.”
The Redbirds hit 12 3-pointers: five by John Kinziger, four by Dehn and three by Max Donaldson.
“We’ve got to do a better job guarding that next time we play them,” Rykal said.
The sophomore Kinziger was his steady self with a game-high 33 points, but it was Dehn pouring in 22 points – which tied his season-high – that made the difference for De Pere.
“If you look at the guys across our team, they’re all capable of being scorers,” Winchester said. “I’m happy for Will because he hasn’t necessarily made shots in a few games the way he’s used to. Tonight, he got it going.”
Two games ago, Dehn scored 18 points against Green Bay Southwest and then tallied 17 points against Sheboygan North the night before the Bay Port contest.
In the previous four games, Dehn averaged only 5.8 points per outing.
Winchester said Dehn’s confidence was sky-high after a couple of good games.
“He was yelling at me to run sets for him,” Winchester said. “When he’s feeling like that, that’s good for us and helps our team out.”
De Pere (13-2) got a 3-pointer from Kinziger to tie its biggest first-half lead at 31-24, but a Bay Port 3-pointer from Brock Freeman and a fast-break layup by Nate Forystek, who had 12 points, made it a two-point game.
Early in the second half, DeCleene – who scored five points – was whistled for his fourth foul and had to sit down.
A Freeman 3-pointer cut Bay Port’s deficit to one, 41-40, but that’s when De Pere went to work, scoring 18 of the next 23 points.
“We’re capable of getting stops in bunches with high energy on the defensive end,” Winchester said. “We shoot the ball well, whether it’s John or Will, but Max Donaldson can make big 3s. Jack Jorgensen, who is our highest percentage 3-point shooter, can score it. Not only can he make the 3, but he can also get to the rim and finish. Maddax Shinners is a guy who does lots of dirty work for us and has assumed that role. We have guys doing everything they need to do for our team to win games.”
Down 64-51, Bay Port (9-3) had its chances squandered when Kinziger hit 10 straight free throws.
Rykal, who was upset with some calls by the referees, was assessed a pair of technical fouls and ejected with 4:38 remaining.
Winchester said he’s always happy when his squad can defeat its rival, especially during a season in which both teams are solid.
“It’s a good win for us,” he said. “We’re continuing to build for the stretch run. Hopefully, we’ll be in a good position for the tournament that’s coming up.”