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Bay Port’s winning streak up to five

By Rich Palzewic
SUAMICO – After a blowout loss to De Pere — the No. 1 ranked Division 1 team in the state — on Dec. 13, the Bay Port boys’ basketball team seems to have righted the ship.
Fueled by a trio of players scoring in double digits, the Pirates won their fifth consecutive game on Jan. 10 with a 76-62 victory over Green Bay Preble in Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) action at Bay Port High School.
AJ Lieuwen led the Pirates (8-2 overall, 5-1 FRCC) with 19 points, while Jayden Hackett and Vince Vandervest each added 13.
Sophomore Ty Gerard led the Hornets (4-7, 2-4) with 19 points, while Anthony Cortes-Buenrostro (15) and Jack Thorpe (14) also scored in double digits.
“I give Preble a lot of credit,” Bay Port coach Nate Rykal said. “They struggled against Sheboygan South (Jan. 6 in a 49-37 loss) — they didn’t shoot well in that game. They shot a lot better against us and played well. We came out a bit flat and didn’t have much intensity. We’re Bay Port — we get every team’s best shot, so we have to bring it right away. We only had eight turnovers, but I think overall, we’re dribbling the ball too much.”
After Mason Cornette — who ended with nine points on three 3-pointers — began the game by hitting a shot from beyond the arc, the Pirates edged the lead to 10-6 a few minutes into the contest.
From there, Preble responded with an 11-0 run to go up 17-10. During the surge, Cortes-Buenrostro hit a pair of 3-pointers.
“We knew Bay Port would be tough and physical,” Preble coach Andy Bobholz said. “We wanted to play them tough, and I think we did that. We’re looking for more consistency. We’re capable of shooting well, so we’ve already moved on from the South game.”
Bay Port ended the first half on a 30-13 run to grab a 10-point lead, 40-30, at halftime.
Leading 33-28 a few minutes before halftime, Vandervest hammered home a dunk off a rebound, bringing the crowd to its feet.
Rykal said Vandervest seems to be fully recovered from an ankle injury that limited his minutes early in the season.
“Vince has gotten a lot better,” he said. “He’s playing more aggressively. He was a little timid early in the season with the ankle. His dunk was sweet.”
The Hornets came within 56-50 halfway through the second half, but the Pirates regained control by scoring 13 of the next 15 points to go up 69-52.
“I felt like we were in control of the game in the second half,” Rykal said. “We rebounded well and limited Preble to one shot — for the most part.”
A big highlight for the Hornets was Gerard, who was 8 of 17 overall, including 3 of 7 from beyond the arc.
“He’s come in and absorbed himself into the team — the kids love him,” Bobholz said. “He was a bit tentative coming into the season, but during the last few games, he’s stepped up and is gaining confidence.”
During its five-game winning streak, Bay Port has beaten Ashwaubenon, Appleton East, Green Bay Southwest, Pulaski and now Preble.
“You obviously aren’t playing De Pere every night,” Rykal said. “Southwest is a good team and Pulaski and Preble are scrappy. We have some tough teams in our league.”
The Pirates will get another chance at De Pere on Jan. 24.

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