Fast start propels De Pere
By Greg Bates
DE PERE – It didn’t take long for the De Pere boys’ basketball team to jump on rival Notre Dame Academy.
Scoring the first 14 points of the game, the Redbirds utilized their efficient offense and lockdown defense to perfection. The result was another win — this time 80-37 — to stay undefeated and earn a season sweep against the Tritons in Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) play on Thursday night.
“Our ball pressure I thought was really good from the start,” De Pere sophomore guard Zach Kinziger said. “We were picking up full court, and they have (Emmett) Lawton, so we helped up to him pretty hard. … Our post defense was especially good tonight as well.”
De Pere held Lawton — the conference’s leading scorer at 22.1 points per game — to just 12 points.
“Our energy level was really good on the defensive end and I thought our execution was really good,” De Pere coach Brian Winchester said. “We had a couple different ball screen coverages on and I thought we executed those really well. Obviously, it starts with Emmett for them, and Zach did a good job on him early on and making it difficult for him to find easy looks. Our defense just sparks us every single night, and that was the case again tonight.”
Lawton, who hit a game-winning 3-pointer two nights earlier to beat Bay Port, sprained his left ankle in practice the next day. Lawton said after the game his ankle felt OK during the game, but once he stopped moving it swelled up. The Tritons have a day off before traveling to Catholic Memorial on Saturday.
Top-ranked De Pere used the 1-2 punch of Will Hornseth and John Kinziger. Hornseth was effective inside and outside, scoring a game-high 22 points and three blocks. Kinziger added 21 points, five rebounds and four steals.
Kinziger had 11 of his team’s first 27 points, attacking the basket at will. The senior has been locked down lately by defense. However, he scored 20-plus points for the second time in the last five games.
“He was just really aggressive on both ends of the floor and he comes to play every night,” Winchester said. “This one, it’s Notre Dame. With Emmett and Henry (Weber) and Max Augustine on their team, they grew up playing together and so there’s a little bit extra in that you don’t want to lose to your buddies and that probably motivated him. You don’t have to motivate John too much, that comes naturally, but this one was a little bit extra for him, I think.”
Zach Kinziger said his brother had a little extra in him at the start to get going.
“We’ve got to get him going, especially in these games where we win by quite a few and sometimes he doesn’t get the workload,” Zach Kinziger said. “When we get to those bigger games, we’ve got to get him going, because he’s obviously a huge part of our team, so that was good to see tonight.”
De Pere (19-0, 14-0 FRCC) got three baskets from Hornseth and Zach Kinziger capped the early run with a jump shot to go up 14-0.
“Will was obviously a big help in the beginning, he got his j-hook going,” said Zach Kinziger, who scored 14 points. “But it was just our energy coming out and playing defense, especially right away. Last time, we jumped out a little bit but they kept it close in the first half and I think we remember that. Feeding Will, we just found what was working for us and we continued to do that.”
Notre Dame (11-6, 8-5 FRCC) didn’t score its first points until 6:45 into the game as Lawton converted on a hoop.
“You want to try and stay with them for four-minute segments — hang around, hang around, hang around, hang around,” Notre Dame coach Brian Bobinski said. “We did a decent job defensively for a while, but offensively we were a little sped up, which is what they do very well. They’re very aggressive and very physical.”
A Lawton 3-pointer made it 22-9, but De Pere ended the half on a 22-6 run, fueled by a five-point spurt by Pryce Gregoire off the bench.
De Pere scored the first seven points out of halftime to take a commanding 51-19 lead. The Redbirds never slowed down from there.
De Pere was without starting forward Ben Willihnganz, who hurt his knee in his team’s victory over Sheboygan South on Jan. 31. Winchester said the junior should be back in the lineup in the near future.
Gabe Herman started in Willihnganz’s place and pulled down nine rebounds.
“We need a little more production with Ben (Willihnganz) out, both rebounding and chipping in a few points for us,” Winchester said. “I thought Ethan Ramos was great coming off the bench for us tonight, especially on the defensive end.”