West De Pere beats De Pere in rematch
By Greg Bates
DE PERE – In an up and down season, the West De Pere boys’ basketball team was looking to get a push entering the postseason.
A win over rival and state-ranked De Pere helps team morale.
The Phantoms got 25 points from Dawson Nordgaard and 19 from Lukas Ricker in a 75-66 nonconference victory Feb. 6 over the Redbirds.
“De Pere is a super team, and the kids came ready to play,” West De Pere head coach Todd Deschane said. “We had a great week of practice leading up to it. I hate to say you’re at the end of the year, but we’re figuring things out. Hopefully, we continue to progress. I’m proud of the guys.”
West De Pere, which lost to De Pere 70-68 Dec. 21, came into the game winners of two of its last three after dropping three straight.
The Redbirds, on the other hand, were winners of seven in a row and averaging 74.9 points per game during that stretch.
“We didn’t have it tonight,” De Pere head coach Brian Winchester said. “West De Pere was better than us. I thought they did a great job of straight-line driving us to the rim. Nordgaard was tough – he played well.”
Along with its balanced scoring, West De Pere was clutch at the free-throw line.
The Phantoms went 21-of-25 for the game, including 18-for-22 in the second half.
West De Pere (12-8) was also hitting its field goals – it missed only three second-half shots.
However, it was the team’s defense that Deschane pinpointed to be the difference.
Deschane said he knew De Pere (17-3) star John Kinziger was going to get his share of points – he had 32 on 10 made field goals – but the key was stopping the Redbirds’ other offensive threats.
Will Dehn came into the game averaging 11.3 points per contest, and the De Pere senior was held to seven points on two made field goals.
Max Donaldson and Maddax Shinners have combined to average 16.8 points per game, but they had six against West De Pere.
However, Jack Jorgensen chipped in 16 points – 14 in the second half.
“Kinziger draws so much attention that he can kick out if we over-help,” Deschane said. “We talked about not helping as much on his drives. Alec Schneider did a super job (defensively). He tweaked his ankle in the first game against them. He’s our primary on-ball defender. Johnny is going to get his (points).”
Nordgaard was unstoppable on the inside for West De Pere.
The 6-foot-9 post converted 9-of-10 shots, while Michael Moran added 15 points.
“We’re on the small side, so if we don’t defend the perimeter well and don’t have rim protection, we have to do a good job with all five guys defending as a unit,” Winchester said. “We didn’t have that tonight.”
A key sequence in the game occurred after Kinziger knocked down two free throws to make it a six-point West De Pere lead, 59-53, with 6:03 remaining in the game.
De Pere had several chances to cut its deficit even further; however, the Phantoms scored the next six points – four free throws from Moran and two more from Nordgaard – and had their lead balloon to 12 with 2:55 showing on the clock.
Deschane said he’s hoping his guys take away some lessons about closing out a victory against a tough team.
“As we move forward into the postseason, this is going to be a win that will help us,” he said. “We’ve got the behemoths waiting there from the FVA (Fox Valley Association), so it doesn’t get any easier. We’re going to take it as a puncher’s chance and go out there and give it our best.”