De Pere keeps on rollin’
By Greg Bates
MANITOWOC – There’s one really good reason why the De Pere boys’ basketball is still undefeated two-thirds of the way through the regular season.
The Redbirds players are unselfish. It’s all about the team, not about individual accolades.
De Pere’s unselfish mentality was on full display at Manitowoc Lincoln on Friday night.
The team connected on 32 field goals with assists being registered on 30 of those made baskets.
“It starts in practice and it starts coming together as a team,” De Pere forward Will Hornseth said. “We just work well together. We just practice it, and it just all comes together so well. We’re not worried about our individual stats or anything. We’re worried about getting the win. When we share the ball like that, we’re going to get the wins.”
The wins just keep piling up.
De Pere hit 77% of its shots in the second half as it methodically downed Manitowoc Lincoln 84-47 in a Fox River Classic Conference game.
“The ball moves for our team — and we stress it — but we have a great group of kids,” De Pere coach Brian Winchester said. “They love to play with one another and they are unselfish and they just want to go out and win the game. Whatever it takes to win the game, and it’s fun to watch because the ball pops for us.”
De Pere (16-0, 12-0 FRCC) shot lights out for the game, going 30-for-43 (70%) from the field.
Manitowoc Lincoln (10-7, 6-6 FRCC) fed off its crowd early and had the game tied at 10-10. But then the Redbirds started doing their thing.
Ben Willihnganz had a 7-0 run on his own — he scored 12 of De Pere’s first 17 points — as the Redbirds went up 17-10.
“You can try to take away me, Zach (Kinziger) and John (Kinziger), but even then that leaves open players like Hogan (Demovsky) and Ben and Pryce (Gregoire), who are going to make big shots and they’re capable of doing that,” Hornseth said.
De Pere, the top-ranked team in Division 1 in the state, had its lead ballooned to double figures as it was up 34-21 at the break.
The second half was a dream scenario for the Redbirds. They hit their first 10 shots from the field, going on a 27-8 run to take a commanding 61-29 lead.
“I think we just continued to do what we were doing,” Hornseth said. “Coach always says, ‘Water will find its level.’ One of my favorite quotes. But we just go out there and do the same thing every time and we know what we’re doing and our shots are going to go in when we do that.”
De Pere was 17-for-22 from the field in the final 18 points and cruised to another victory.
Winchester liked the way his guys shot.
“Very good shot selection, unselfishness — the ball’s getting to the right guy in the right spot in rhythm, I think that’s so important,” Winchester said. “It’s not just find an open guy, but making sure that you’re delivering the ball when and where it needs to be.”
John Kinziger — who entered the game just 23 points from tying Jordan Meulemans’ school record for boys and girls basketball with 1,871 career points — finished with 15 points, as did Willihnganz.
Hornseth and Zach Kinziger chipped in 14 points apiece.
Less than 24 hours after its game ended against Manitowoc Lincoln, De Pere will have to face a major test. The Redbirds will square off against No. 4-ranked Homestead (13-3) in the Warhawk Invitational at Germantown on Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
This game could be a possible preview to a Division 1 sectional final, if both teams are able to advance in early March.
“We just want to go out and play well,” Winchester said. “I told the kids, it is an important game because it is a sectional opponent and the way the WIAA has it — I don’t know what the exact formula is — but sectional opponents weighted more. So, it’s important for seeding. … I think the most important thing for tomorrow night is it’s a game against a really good team. Homestead will challenge us and put us in difficult positions, and we want that and we want to make sure we’re ready for that as we go into the tournament.”