By Josh Staloch
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay East Red Devils boys’ basketball team went into its Nov. 30 season opener at Green Bay Preble minus its starting point guard Vance Alexander Jr., out due to possible COVID-19 exposure.
Overcoming the absence of their floor general, the Red Devils, who got a combined 55 points from Ryan Sweeney and Bill Felix, defeated the Hornets, 84-66.
“I was nervous because we didn’t have a game under our belt and (Preble) did,” East Head Coach Rick Rosinski said. “We like to play 84 feet, and the conditioning we’ve been doing has paid off. My kids were saying, ‘We’re not tired, they’re tired.’ It’s a credit to our kids and how hard they work in practice to get in shape.”
The game was close early as the home team traded baskets with East.
Preble’s Reese Berg got the scoring started with a steal and follow through at the other end of the floor before Thomas Michaels made it 4-0 at the free-throw line.
The Red Devils got hot from there, though.
Felix brought down an offensive rebound and went back up for an easy two, putting East on the board.
Sweeney then went to work, driving into the lane for a layup to tie the game 4-4.
Later in the first half, Michaels got his team to within five at 20-15 on a putback, but East’s Jalen Flowers, who was high-energy all night on his way to nine points, answered with a 3-pointer, and the Red Devils began pulling away.
Led by 21 points from Sweeney, East went into the halftime break up 45-26.
Preble’s Sam Hummel drove the lane for the first points of the second half but Sweeney responded at the other end with an 18-footer.
When Sweeney wasn’t scoring from seemingly anywhere on the floor, he was also handling the ball.
On its way to putting the game out of reach, East got a highlight-reel play when Sweeney hit Felix in stride down low from the top of the key for a basket and a 60-34 lead.
East’s biggest lead of the night came on a 3-pointer from Oliver Killian, who finished with 12 points, to make it 76-45.
Preble saw some good scoring late from Anthony Cortes-Buenrostro, who came up with several key buckets, as the Hornets fought their way back to within 20.
“They play hard,” Rosinski said. “Sometimes, when you’re short-handed, there’s a tendency to take possessions off, but I didn’t see much of that tonight. With this group, we’re going to go, and if there’s a shot, take it. We don’t need 10 or 12 passes. This group has been together long enough to where they can coach themselves. There are some leaders out there. Sweeney, where he is now, a starter since his freshman year, it’s night and day. Flowers is the same way, and then you’ve got (Felix). We’ve got three guys in there who can score.”