Kinziger’s big second half carries De Pere to victory over Bay Port
By Rich Palzewic
SUAMICO – Sophomore guard John Kinziger took over in the second half of De Pere’s 72-65 victory Feb. 5 over Bay Port.
Kinziger, who had 12 first-half points, scored 22 more in the second half, as the Redbirds erased a 36-33 halftime deficit.
He scored all of his second-half points in the first nine minutes after intermission.
During his impressive run, Kinziger outscored the Pirates by himself, 22-16.
“I told our team after the game, ‘That was as good an offensive performance during that particular stretch as I’ve seen,’” said De Pere head coach Brian Winchester. “It wasn’t only hitting a few open shots, he was hitting tough shots. He was incredible tonight. Keep in mind, he’s only a sophomore.”
After Kinziger scored his last point of the game with 8:40 remaining, the Redbirds led 64-52.
Bay Port then closed the gap to 64-62 with a 10-0 run.
The run coincided with De Pere’s Jack Jorgenson being out of the lineup at times because he was saddled with foul trouble.
“We can be disappointed in the outcome but not in our effort,” said Nate Rykal, Bay Port head coach. “We missed a few open shots, but Kinziger was phenomenal. His body control is excellent, and he does a great job drawing contact. I thought we did a decent job guarding him. We switched to a triangle-in-two on him later in the second half, and that slowed him down some. De Pere did a great job defensively on us down the stretch.”
After the Pirates closed to within two, De Pere ended the game on an 8-3 spurt, scoring six of its points from the free-throw line.
Jorgenson drained four from the charity stripe, while Will Dehn hit a pair.
“That was a good high school basketball game,” Winchester said. “I’m proud of my guys for staying the course and getting through the emotional swings of the game. Bay Port is a solid team. We weren’t great tonight, but we did enough defensively to help us win the game.”
In an entertaining first half, De Pere’s Maddax Shinners hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the visitors an 11-8 lead.
Bay Port’s Nate Forystek – who led the Pirates with 21 points – then hit his own three to tie the game 11-11.
Vince Vandervest scored two consecutive buckets for Bay Port to make it 20-18, but the Redbirds scored 11 of the next 15 points to take a 29-24 lead.
From there, the Pirates went on a 10-0 run to make it 34-29.
“Up five, I was feeling pretty good with how things were going offensively and defensively,” said Winchester. “Against good teams like Bay Port, there’s going to be those emotional swings. Even late in the game, we’re up 12, and then we got stagnant on offense.”
De Pere’s Max Donaldson went down with an ankle injury in the last minute of the first half and didn’t return.
“I think Max will be fine, but not having him in the second half hurt us,” Winchester said. “He’s a key part of what we do offensively. When you add up an injury and losing a guy to foul trouble, sometimes it’s a matter of not having the right lineup out there for certain stretches. But, when the game was on the line, we executed.”
Jorgenson (11) and Shinners (10) both scored in double digits for De Pere, while Gunnar DeCleene added 14 for the Pirates.
De Pere will most likely earn a No. 1 seed in the upcoming postseason regional, while Bay Port should garner the No. 2 seed.
“We’ve beaten Bay Port this season twice and have the best record in our regional,” Winchester said. “We should be the No. 1 seed, but we’re not too worried about that now.”