Seymour’s Dorn held to 15 in loss
By Greg Bates
SEYMOUR – Mason Dorn is the straw that stirs the drink for the Seymour boys’ basketball team.
So, when Xavier High School head coach Matt Klarner game plans to stop the Thunder, he knows it starts with slowing down the senior combo guard who averaged 29.3 points per game entering Friday night’s game.
When the teams squared off in early January, Xavier held Dorn to 14 points.
In Round 2, the Hawks defenders again blanketed Dorn, allowing him to convert on only five made field goals in a 15-point effort.
That smothering man-to-man defense, along with Xavier’s ability to get out in transition off turnovers were keys in its 69-64 victory at Seymour.
The win locked up the Bay Conference title for the Hawks.
If Seymour would have won, it would have tied for the conference crown.
“We’ve leaned on two seniors – Isaac Shimek and Cal Mares – all year for big defensive assignments, and they stepped up again,” Klarner said. “What gets overlooked are all the other pieces to the puzzle that are happening behind that. No one’s going to guard Mason Dorn one-on-one, and we knew we weren’t going to either. All the other stuff is what put it together.”
Seymour head coach Bobby Kuchta was also impressed by Xavier.
“They’ve had a good game plan,” Kuchta said. “Mason hasn’t scored fewer than 20 other than these two games. We’ve got to figure out a way to get some touches in the post. We’ve got five guys shooting 40%. I’m OK with that as long as Mason makes the right choice and he hits the open guys.”
Since losing to Kaukauna Jan. 11, Seymour rattled off 12 consecutive wins after starting the season 6-5.
Xavier has now won 14 straight games after a 5-4 start.
It was a back-and-forth affair early.
Xavier (19-4) led 24-17, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Seymour’s Evan Vanden Langenberg and Treyton Cornell and a Dorn basket put the Thunder up 25-24.
It looked as though Seymour (19-6) was going to take the lead into halftime, but Xavier’s Ray Zuleger raced the length of the court in 5 seconds and beat the buzzer with a layup to give his team a 31-30 advantage.
In the second half, a basket by Vanden Langenberg gave Seymour a 34-33 lead.
Xavier, which is ranked No. 8 in Division 2 in the latest WisSports.com Coaches Poll, rattled off the next 11 points – capped by a Zuleger 3-pointer.
Down seven with about one minute remaining, Cornell launched a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner that barely rattled out.
Thirty seconds later, Charlie Pfefferle missed the back end of a one-and-one, but Xavier got the offensive rebound.
Another converted free throw gave the Hawks a 68-61 lead with 26.1 seconds on the clock.
“We battled until the end and attacked on the offensive end,” Kuchta said. “We had 13 turnovers. That was the difference – in the second half, at least. We had a couple of stretches where we couldn’t get a shot off and panicked under pressure and threw it away. The turnovers helped Xavier get to a 12-point lead.”
Seymour – which was without starter Daniel Inman, who sprained an ankle Feb. 9 – got 10 points off the bench from Gunar Weyer.
Vanden Langenberg chipped in 14 points, and Logan Griesbach had 11.
Alex Sherwood tallied a game-high 16 points for Xavier.
With the regular season over, No. 1-seeded Seymour opens the postseason Friday, Feb. 19, against the winner of No. 4 Marinette/No. 5 Antigo.
If Seymour wins its first two playoff games, it will advance to sectionals, where three other top seeds might be waiting: Xavier, Ashwaubenon and Denmark.
Entering sectionals, the schools will be reseeded.
“We probably won’t get a home game in sectionals without beating Xavier,” Kuchta said. “They beat us twice, so if they’re there, we can’t argue that. It’s a high-percentage chance we see them again. It’s going to be at their place, and it’s going to be a battle.”
After seeing his star player score only 15 points in the regular-season finale, Kuchta said Dorn’s teammates have to create for him.
“It’s simple: get him some touches on the block, play through pressure and contact and rip it and attack,” he said. “Instead of forcing one or two shots, kick it to an open guy. We’ll be ready, and we’re battle-tested. We played a tough schedule. All these games make us better.”