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De Pere boys beat Ashwaubenon in FRCC battle

By Rich Palzewic
Sports Editor

DE PERE – On Senior Night, the De Pere boys’ basketball team turned a close game in the second half into a comfortable win over Ashwaubenon in front of a packed house at De Pere High School Feb. 11.

Leading 38-35 with 14 minutes remaining, the Redbirds, the No. 2-ranked Division 1 team in the state, eventually pulled away for an 81-67 Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) victory.

“What a great atmosphere for a high school basketball game,” De Pere Head Coach Brian Winchester said. “You saw two high-level teams going at it. I’m worn out, and the kids have have to be worn out, too. This win puts us in a good position.”

The Jaguars, ranked No. 6 in Division 2, won the first game of the season between the two teams Jan. 14, 58-56.

“It’s always a big game on our schedule,” Winchester said. “After Ashwaubenon beat us in the first game, our kids were jacked up for this one.”

The Redbirds (19-2 overall, 13-2 FRCC) were led by John Kinziger’s 28 points, while 6-foot-8 sophomore Will Hornseth was strong inside with his 16 points.

Ashwaubenon’s Marcus Tomashek, a Division II commit to Michigan Tech, led all scorers with 29 points.

Tomashek, who scored 41 points in the first game, battled foul trouble in the first half, picking up his third of the game 10 minutes in.

Ashwaubenon (17-3, 12-3) Head Coach Mark Tomashek chose to keep his son in the game after the foul.

“That was a tough moment, but I knew I had to keep Marcus in there,” he said. “We had to keep the game as close as we could for as long as we could. He did a nice job not picking up his fourth, but it did limit his aggressiveness. It was unorthodox, and maybe most coaches wouldn’t have done it, but I thought we had to.”

In a back-and-forth first half, De Pere led 19-18 after Tomashek picked up his third foul.

The Redbirds then ended the half of a 16-8 run to lead 35-25 at halftime.

The Jaguars came out hot to begin the second half, aided by a pair of 3-pointers from Zach Kelly and one from Boone Kirst.

After a Tomashek free throw, Ashwaubenon was down 38-35.

“We were right there,” Coach Tomashek said. “We needed another stop or two and didn’t get it. Give De Pere credit – they didn’t flinch and played hard.”

Kinziger, Hornseth and Jack Jorgensen, who scored 15 points and nailed three 3-pointers in the game, combined to score the next 26 points for the Redbirds to bump the lead to 64-50.

Gabe Herman scored 8 points down the stretch for De Pere to help put the game away.

For one of the De Pere seniors, Max Donaldson, the game had extra meaning.

Donaldson tore his ACL last summer and has missed the entire season.

After Tomashek was allowed to score the opening bucket of the game – Ashwaubenon’s only lead of the night – Donaldson did the same on the other end of the floor.

“Hats off to Coach Tomashek and his staff for allowing that to happen,” Winchester said. “They didn’t have to do that. You’re playing in a game this big, and it was an odd start. It was special for Max to get back out on the court. To get to your senior year and not be able to play, that’s tough. He got into the scorebook one final time.”

The other seniors on the team are Jorgensen and Cal Matzke.

The Redbirds can essentially clinch the FRCC title Tuesday, Feb. 15, with a win over Notre Dame Academy (16-4, 12-2).

“That will be another huge game with a big crown,” Winchester said. “If you want a good seat, get here early.”

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