By Greg Bates
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay East boys’ basketball team scored 84 and 85 points, respectively, in the first two games of the season.
On Tuesday, Dec. 7, East met its defensive match: Seymour.
The Thunder wanted to take Red Devils’ top scorer Ryan Sweeney out of the game and make someone else beat them.
Senior Bill Felix accepted the challenge and performed well.
Utilizing his physicality inside, Felix couldn’t be stopped, scoring 19 points as East hung on for a 49-43 victory in its home opener.
The Red Devils are now 3-0 to start a season for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign.
However, its Bay Conference-opening win didn’t come easily.
“I told them in the locker room after the game, ‘Hey, you’re not going to play 24 games in a season to a high level. You’re going to have games like this, and you’re going to have to grind it out and find a way to win,’” Green Bay East Head Coach Rick Rosinski said. “They did a good job.”
The game was tight down to the wire as the Red Devils led 45-43.
Seymour then missed back-to-back 3-point attempts on the same possession with less than two minutes remaining.
The Thunder were 2-for-22 on 3-pointers on the night.
East was 4-for-4 at the free-throw line in the final 27.7 seconds.
In comparison, Seymour was 3-for-9 from the free-throw line for the game.
“Today, things didn’t go the way we wanted,” Felix said. “It’s nice to be 3-0 — getting started and getting to where we want it.”
Felix was the inside presence the Red Devils needed.
At 6-foot-2 and a big upper body, the height-challenged Thunder had a tough time matching up against him.
The Seymour defenders constantly fronted him and double-teamed him, but it wasn’t enough.
“There was a size advantage there, so I went on my block and did my thing,” Felix said.
Sweeney, who scored 34 points in the season opener, was limited to 14 points on five made field goals.
Jalen Flowers was held to seven points, all in the first half.
“We did a heck of a job on defense, and we competed and made everything difficult for them,” Seymour Head Coach Bobby Kuchta said.
East relied on its three-headed monster of Sweeney, Felix and Flowers in the first two games of the season, but it was Felix who stepped up against the Thunder.
“They did a good job of playing in a gap and taking Ryan away,” Rosinski said. “Jalen (Flowers) wasn’t shooting the ball that well, so Bill (Felix) took over. He’s a tough matchup because you’ve got to guard him on the perimeter, and he’s a big guy down low. He’s a horse.”
The Red Devils (3-0 overall, 1-0 Bay Conference) took their biggest lead of the game, 32-23, early in the second half after a Sweeney basket.
Seymour (1-3, 0-1) answered with a 9-0 run to tie it on a pair of free throws from Gunar Weyer, who finished with a team-high 17 points.
East jumped back in front with the next six points and never looked back.
Red Devils point guard Vance Alexander Jr. was back for his first game after an injury.
He drained a pair of free throws to put his team up 43-39 with 4:50 on the clock.
He also knocked down two free throws with 19.7 seconds remaining.
After high-scoring victories in the first two games of the season, Rosinski said having his guys face adversity will be beneficial.
“These guys have been around, so they get it,” he said. “They’re mature enough now and played lots of basketball where they don’t get rattled. It’s going to help, though, you can see.”