Seymour holds off late surge by Southwest
By Rich Palzewic
SEYMOUR – After shooting poorly during its first two games, the Seymour boys’ basketball team finally made a few baskets.
The result was a 43-39 nonconference win on Nov. 29 against Green Bay Southwest at Seymour High School.
“We’ve been struggling shooting overall,” Seymour coach Bobby Kuchta said. “We had seven guys hit a 3 tonight. I told the guys, ‘It’s a lot more fun when you hit some shots.’ It also helps set up your defense because you’re not always in transition.”
The Thunder (1-2) got balanced scoring, with Keanu Chinana leading the way with nine points off the bench.
Tru Cornell (8) and Pace Jefferson (7) were among eight Seymour players who scored.
“We had balanced scoring,” Kuchta said. “Our identity is our defense — when you hold teams to the 30s, you’re going to win a lot of games.”
The Trojans (0-1), playing their first game of the season, were without the services of 6-foot-9 senior Austin Terrell, who sat out because he recently had his wisdom teeth extracted.
“I’d like to think Austin would have made a difference, but we’re trying to find out who we are,” Southwest coach John Polkowski said. “I’m not quite sure exactly when Austin will be back, but it should be sometime next week.”
Both teams started cold from the field, with the Thunder holding a 7-6 lead halfway through the opening half.
Two and a half minutes later, the Trojans led 11-7.
“To be honest, I think it was more bad shooting from both teams,” Kuchta said. “Both teams had plenty of good looks. We finished the half on a nice run — that was a key for us and gave us some momentum.”
Trailing 11-7, Seymour scored 12 straight points — all from 3-point land — to grab a 19-11 lead at the break.
“I think you can argue it was both bad shooting and good defense,” Polkowski said. “It was a pretty ugly first half.”
Needing 23 points to hit 1,000 for his career, Southwest senior Connor Pytleski was held scoreless in the opening half.
Pytleski – who ended with 11 points — didn’t score until there was 11:38 showing on the second-half clock.
“He was obviously our focus,” Kuchta said of Pytleski. “We wanted to make sure someone else beat us, and we didn’t want him to score his 1,000th point on our floor. We know he likes to put the ball on the floor, is a good passer and led his team in basically every stat category last season. I thought we did a good job on him.”
Pytleski, a first-team selection in the Fox River Classic Conference last season, averaged 17.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
Trailing 36-28 with 7:33 remaining in the game, Southwest’s Terrance Stokes picked up a technical foul on a play he thought should have been called a foul.
With the lead at 39-29 with about five minutes to go, the Trojans began clawing their way back.
A Zaire Russel bucket and five consecutive points from Pytleski cut the lead to 39-36 with less than three minutes to play.
A pair of free throws from Cornell upped the lead to five before a Pytleski free throw and a putback basket with 10.8 seconds remaining made it 41-39.
Another two free throws from Cornell sealed the win for the Thunder.
“That’s a nonconference rival of ours because we are so close (in distance),” Kuchta said. “Anytime you can beat a Division 1 school, it’s a big deal.”
Polkowski said his team will get better.
“You always have to be optimistic and positive the guys will turn it around,” he said. “We got our feet wet — I like where we’re at. It’s early in the season, and it was Seymour’s third game.”
Gavin Yang chipped in nine points for Southwest.