De Pere edges Notre Dame in final minute
By Murray Gleffe
GREEN BAY — This boys’ basketball game bore no resemblance to the one played one month ago, Jan. 12, where De Pere easily handled Notre Dame by 30 points.
The Feb. 11, Fox River Classic Conference rematch featured 20, second-half lead changes, as the Redbirds edged the Tritons, 72-70, at Notre Dame High School.
“Our team hung in there,” said Brian Winchester, De Pere head coach. “We struggled shooting the ball tonight. Will Dehn was a huge difference-maker in how he stepped up throughout the game. We ground it out and kept our composure when we needed it most.”
Johnny Kinziger led De Pere with 27 points, while George Kress paced the Tritons with 20.
Neither team could shake the other in the first eight minutes, as one possession is all that separated the teams.
With the Tritons up three, Danny Nennig converted a three-point play.
A minute later, sophomore Emmett Lawton hit a runner in the lane to give Notre Dame an eight-point lead, 30-22, with 5:31 left until intermission.
“I was extremely happy with our play early on,” said AJ Alexander, Notre Dame head coach. “Danny’s growth as a player has been phenomenal. He has added height and size to get to where he is today.”
Winchester called his third timeout of the half to try and settle his team down.
Out of the break, De Pere remained resilient, as its shots started to fall during the latter part of the first half.
“We were employing our guys to get stops,” Winchester said. “Notre Dame is a very good offensive team. George (Kress) and Garrett (Grzesk) were tough matchups in creating mass chaos for us.”
After Dehn and Max Donaldson connected on a pair of 3-pointers, the Redbirds went on a 16-6 run to take a 38-36 lead into the break.
In the second half, each time one team took the lead, the other battled back and grabbed the reins.
A key moment came with Notre Dame holding a 65-61 lead with 6:19 remaining.
The Tritons were whistled for back-to-back technical fouls, which resulted in four made throws by Kinziger to even the game 65-65.
“I told the guys, we – myself included – have to control what we say and do in the course of the game,” Alexander said. “We’ll learn from it and get better come the end of February and into March.”
Trailing 69-68 with less than a minute to go, Maddax Shinners fed a pass to Dehn, who hit a 12-foot baseline jumper to give the De Pere the lead back.
“Maddax doesn’t get enough credit for what he does on the court,” said Winchester. “He does things which never show up. I’m extremely happy for him.”
After a Tritons’ miss, they were forced to foul on multiple possessions because they only had four team fouls in the half, which meant De Pere wasn’t in the bonus.
Finally, Kinziger was sent to the line with nine seconds remaining, and he drilled both free throws for a 72-69 lead.
De Pere didn’t give Notre Dame a final look at a 3-point try with three seconds left.
Instead, the Redbirds elected to foul in the bonus situation, and Kress hit one of two free throws for the final margin.
“We ended the conference with only one loss,” Winchester said. “To get this win for our seniors is huge. This team wanted to end the regular season the right way against a great opponent. We have to be ready for Saturday’s (Feb. 20) game against Middleton and the postseason starting next week.”
De Pere: 38, 34 — 72
Notre Dame: 36, 34—70
Redbirds: Kinziger 27, Dehn 20, Donaldson 9, Herman 6, Jorgensen 5, Shinners 4, Rosner 1.
Tritons: Kress 20, Grzesk 16, Nennig 12, Mitchell 10, Lawton 7, Hornacek 5.