Notre Dame sweeps season series with Bay Port
By Greg Bates
SUAMICO – When Bay Port boys’ basketball entered the Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) in 2007-08, it was a dominant program.
Notre Dame Academy, on the other hand, was near the bottom of the standings.
In the 14 seasons leading up to this year, Bay Port had beaten Notre Dame 26 of their 28 meetings.
Notre Dame had a big breakthrough win, downing Bay Port 74-56 Jan. 7 to set up Friday night’s showdown between the rivals.
The Tritons were trying to secure a season sweep for the first in program history.
With 6:20 remaining in the game and Bay Port up 57-54, Notre Dame went on an 8-0 run to regain the lead.
The Tritons never relinquished it and went on to pull off a 69-64 victory.
Following the game, the visiting team locker room was rocking as players celebrated the historical win for the Notre Dame program.
“I told the guys I think by far that’s our best win of the season because of how well Bay Port played,” first-year Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Bobinski said. “They’re doing a great job over there. They’ve gotten much better since we saw them a month ago and shot it fantastic tonight. Our kids hung in there. It’s a good win for us.”
The win wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the superb play of senior forward Keegan King.
He scored a game-high 21 points on 10-for-13 shooting from the field — all inside the paint.
When his team needed a big bucket in the second half, King provided it.
He had 15 of his points in the final 15 minutes of the game.
“Chris (Mitchell) and Emmett (Lawson) by far are two of our best players, and they were focusing on them a lot,” King said. “They came in at halftime and said they needed someone to pick it up. Luckily, I had one of the nights, and it could have been Luke (Warden) or Ethan (Wall-Atim). I got lucky tonight.”
King had a productive game because Bobinski said he works hard.
“Keegan is so crafty,” he said. “He’s good with ball fakes and using his body and he’s quicker than he looks. He gets off the floor quicker than people expect, and he’s able to finish. He does a great job of it. He knows exactly what he is, and he’s comfortable being what he is, and it works for him.”
Mitchell had a nice game for Notre Dame with 19 points, and Wall-Atim logged a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Bay Port was led by Nate Forystek with 17 points and 8 rebounds, while Jackson Yanda scored a career-high 13 points.
It was a back-and-forth first half that had six lead changes before Notre Dame (14-4 overall, 10-2 FRCC) took a 31-30 advantage into the break.
Early in the second, Bay Port (9-9, 7-6) jumped out to its biggest lead of the game, 40-35, after a pair of Yanda free throws, but an 8-2 Notre Dame run put it back in front.
Again, Bay Port went up five as AJ Lieuwen drained one of his three 3-pointers to make it 55-50.
Notre Dame responded in a big way.
A layup by King after a great dish from Mitchell and a steal and layup by Daniel Hornacek fueled a 12-2 run.
That put the Tritons up 62-57 with 4:32 remaining in the contest.
“That was huge,” King said. “Chris’ charge, Daniel’s steal, it was amazing. I knew right there we had it.”
Bobinski said he saw his team lock down on both ends of the court during that sequence.
“We kept talking, they kept making their shots and we kept saying we’ve got to string two stops together,” he said. “If we could find a way to get two stops and two rebounds. We were doing such a great job on the offensive end that it was going to be enough to flip the game, and it turned out that was the cause.”
Mitchell and Wall-Atim combined to hit all four of their free-throw attempts in the final 26.7 seconds to seal the Notre Dame victory.
“We’ve got to learn from it and be better,” Bay Port Head Coach Nate Rykal said. “These are the types of games we want to play in because we need to get ready for playoffs. We learn how to win and play better D. We’ve got to find a way to finish plays and run a better offense.”
Both teams shot well for the game: Notre Dame 28-for-48 (58.3%) and Bay Port 23-for-46 (50%).
Notre Dame has now won six of its last seven games and is 14-2 since dropping the first two games of the season.
All four of the Tritons’ losses are to state-ranked opponents.
Sitting at 10-2 in the conference, Notre Dame is 1 1/2 games behind Ashwaubenon and De Pere, which are tied for first place at 12-1.
With Ashwaubenon and De Pere facing one another Feb. 11, Notre Dame can gain ground on one of the teams.
Notre Dame also travels to De Pere Feb. 15, which could turn out to be a battle for first place.
“If we can get to that De Pere game — we’ve got two games next week before we get there, and we’ve got to win those — that’s the goal,” Bobinski said. “We want to hang around as long as we possibly can.”