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De Pere wins battle of state-ranked teams

By Greg Bates

DE PERE – A packed crowd at De Pere High School witnessed a great exhibit of boys’ basketball Tuesday by two of the top guards in the state: Kimberly’s Jackson Paveletzke and De Pere’s John Kinziger.


The do-everything Paveletzke poured in a career-high 50 points, while Kinziger wasn’t going to play second fiddling, putting in 35 points, also a career-high.


But it was Kinziger’s teammates who stepped up and filled in the gaps, nailing some big shots in the most opportune time in the nonconference battle of state-ranked teams.


The Redbirds turned an eight-point lead with five minutes remaining into a resounding 98-76 victory with their balanced attack on both ends of the court.


“That was an outstanding win for us,” De Pere Head Coach Brian Winchester said. “Our kids were gritty. The show in that gym tonight was phenomenal for everybody who came. This is what high school basketball at a high level is supposed to be. Paveletzke was outstanding and Kimberly was good. Our guys, led by Johnny (Kinziger), were outstanding.”


De Pere, ranked No. 1 in Division 1 by the WisSports.net Coaches Poll, needed all of its balance on offense to wear down No. 9-ranked Kimberly.


Senior Jack Jorgensen drained five 3-pointers and tallied a career-high 23 points for the Redbirds.


“Jorgy (Jorgensen), I’m happy for him because he hadn’t got himself going this year yet, and he was big-time tonight,” Winchester said. “He made big shots, buoyed us and was the difference-maker in the game.”


A couple of underclassmen came up with solid performances, as freshman Zach Kinziger scored 15 points, and sophomore Will Hornseth added 14 points.


“We have great balance with scorers, defenders and then we’ve got Will Hornseth in the post,” John Kinziger said. “We also have great shooters on the outside, which is perfect for our team. It’s what our offense is built around.”


Winchester saw he saw lots of growth from Zach Kinziger in the win.


“He’s not shy, and that’s what he has to do for us,” he said. “He has to step into it, and he’s got to knock down shots. That’s his mentality, and it’s in the DNA.”


In a seesaw first half, as both teams felt out one another, it was apparent early that Paveletzke was going to have a huge offensive output.


During one stretch, he nailed six straight baskets and put the team on his back most of the night.


After Paveletzke drained a 3-pointer to put the Papermakers up 22-21, De Pere (6-0) answered with a 14-4 run to make it 35-26.


Kimberly (3-2) closed the gap before half, 40-37, as Paveletzke had 26 points.


Kimberly regained the lead at 49-48, which would be its last lead of the game, as Zach Kinziger capped an 18-8 run with a 3-pointer.


With De Pere holding a 74-66 advantage and five minutes remaining, Gabe Herman made a layup, and John Kinziger converted a three-point play as the Redbirds’ lead grew to 13.


“You could tell at the end of both halves, Kimberly got winded, and we kept playing through it,” Winchester said. “Our depth helped us.”


Paveletzke ran out of gas as he notched his 50th point and was pulled with the game already decided.


Kinziger said he loved the back-and-forth shootout with Paveletzke, a Wofford College commit.


“It was a blast,” he said. “He’s a great player, but we played great as a team, though. He didn’t miss — he was shooting amazingly from the field. We had to come together as a team, pass, drive, kick and get as many defensive stops as we could.”


Kimberly got 14 points from Owen Pawlikowski, but other than that, there wasn’t any scoring help for Paveletzke.


“Even though Paveletzke went crazy, we were able to get rebounds on the shots the other Kimberly kids missed. We didn’t allow second-chance points, and those would kill you in a game like this.”


De Pere shot 36-for-59 from the field for the game, missing eight shots in the second half.


“You can’t beat a team that shoots nearly 70% — that’s difficult,” first-year Kimberly Head Coach Jon Murphy, who led the Seymour program for 33 years, said. “They move the ball well, and we’ve got to get to that point.”


De Pere has two nonconference games in the WBY Shootout over the holiday break.


On Dec. 28, the Redbirds play No. 2 ranked in Division 2, Wisconsin Lutheran (6-0).

The next day, De Pere takes on Wauwatosa West (7-2).


“I learned our team has grit, and we feed off energy,” John Kinziger said. “When we knew that, we have to come out and play. We’ll come out and play with the energy — move the ball, share the ball and not be selfish and get the win at the end of the day.” 

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