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Second-half run carries De Pere to victory over Bay Port

By Greg Bates

SUAMICO – If one thing has become apparent in the first one-third of the boys’ basketball schedule, it’s the De Pere players don’t get rattled and know their abilities.

The undefeated and No. 1-ranked team in Division 1 led three-win Bay Port by one point at halftime, but the Redbirds never faltered.

De Pere used a 29-9 run early in the second half en route to a 79-65 road victory in Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) action Tuesday.

“We’re a confident group,” De Pere Head Coach Brian Winchester said. “I have lots of confidence in what they’re capable of. Even though Bay Port is a solid team and they’ve got good players, I thought we’d be able to guard them. At the end of the first half, we got a little sloppy defensively. I knew our offense was going to come around at some point. Too many guys are too talented not to have some shots go in.”

De Pere’s leading scorer John Kinziger had an uncharacteristic night, finishing with a season-low 11 points.

However, his teammates picked up the slack.

Jack Jorgensen scored a team-high 22 points, going 6-for-9 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Freshman Zach Kinziger tallied a career-high 20 points, and Will Hornseth tied his career-high with 19 points.

De Pere didn’t shoot horribly in the first half — hitting 42% of its shots — but it had only 21 attempts.

“We stopped moving the ball, and then in the second half, we got back to moving the ball more and rhythm for us came,” Winchester said. “Jorgy (Jorgensen) hit some big shots. Hornseth was consistently providing a good, steady presence for us on both ends. We got John (Kinziger) in the post a couple of times, and that helped get him going. It wasn’t his typical night, but he still does enough for us on both ends where it makes everybody better around him.”

John Kinziger, who came in averaging 23.8 points per game, didn’t connect on his first field goal until a 3-pointer went in at the 15:56 mark of the second half.

He finished 2-for-6 from the field.

“He’s a big part of our team,” Jorgensen said about Kinziger. “He’s a good scorer, and when he doesn’t have stuff falling, everyone else has to step up.”

His teammates did that.

In combining for 61 points, the trio of Jorgensen, Zach Kinziger and Hornseth hit 58.8% of their shots, including going 7-for-12 on 3-pointers.

The rest of the team scored 18 points and shot 33%.

Bay Port put up 10 more field goal attempts for the game than De Pere but hit only 39%.

“I thought we played hard,” Bay Port Head Coach Nate Rykal said. “I was happy with the effort, which I haven’t always been happy with this year. We played a great team, and they stepped up. We hold their leading scorer to 11, but then they had three other guys step up and play well.”

Pirates guard AJ Lieuwen had a game-high 28 points, while Jayden Hackett added 11 points.

De Pere (9-0, 5-0 FRCC) used its height advantage — Bay Port big man Nate Forystek didn’t play — as 6-foot-8 Hornseth scored three hoops to put his team up 8-0.

Bay Port (3-5, 1-3) scored the next nine points.

The Redbirds retook the lead and went up 23-16 before Lieuwen had a basket with 8.3 seconds left to send Bay Port into the locker room down 32-31.

After Lieuwen hit a three to open the second half to give the Pirates the lead, De Pere got into the flow of its offense.

John Kinziger and Jorgensen drained back-to-back 3-pointers, and Zach Kinziger capped a 16-3 run with a hoop to put De Pere in control, 48-37.

Bay Port cut its deficit to nine with 9:07 left, but an 11-3 spurt by De Pere put the game out of reach.

Having to face some adversity early in the second half when they trailed by a couple of points could be advantageous for the De Pere players.

“We’re not going to be able to blow out every team every day, so we’ve got to have tough games that are going to be good for us down the stretch,” Jorgensen said.

Winchester said his team is battling through a tough stretch right now, and it’s thriving.

“We’re winning games and still get to learn from them,” Winchester said. “We had the game against Kimberly before the break, played one of the best teams in the state in (Wisconsin) Lutheran – that was a high-level game – and Wauwatosa West, a good team. Now we come back to Bay Port, which they’re a good team, a rivalry, and to be emotionally up every night is hard. The kids are experiencing what that means every day. That will help us out when it comes to the tournament. You want to be challenged, and you want teams to play well against you. Bay Port was able to do that tonight.”

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