Ashwaubenon takes down Seymour to advance
By Rich Palzewic
ASHWAUBENON – The Ashwaubenon boys’ basketball team advanced to the WIAA Division 2 state tournament a season ago.
After losing all-conference players Marcus Tomashek and Matt Imig to graduation, many expected the Jaguars to take a backseat this season.
Fueled by a new group of players, No. 3-seeded Ashwaubenon turned back No. 6 Seymour 57-46 in its regional opener Friday in front of a large home crowd.
“In the past six weeks, the kids have played really well,” Ashwaubenon coach Mark Tomashek said. “It was for sure hard to replace Marcus and Matt, so it took us a bit to find our groove.”
The Tomashek-Imig duo combined for almost 42 points per game last season. Tomashek is playing at Division II Michigan Tech, while Imig is at Division III University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
For their efforts against the Thunder, the Jaguars (15-9) advanced to a regional final at Notre Dame Academy (14-11), a 74-50 winner over Menasha, Saturday night. Ashwaubenon and the Tritons, both Fox River Classic Conference members, split their two regular-season games.
“We know Notre Dame and they know us,” Ashwaubenon senior Zach Kelly said. “It’s a matter of who wants it more.”
In the regional win over Seymour (12-14), the Jaguars jumped out to an 8-3 lead a few minutes into the game behind the inside game of Kelly and AJ Uhl.
From there, Ashwaubenon increased its lead to 25-14 before the Thunder clawed its way back.
Seymour ended the first 18 minutes of play on a 12-5 run to trail only 30-26 at the break.
“That was probably our best half of basketball the entire season,” Seymour coach Bobby Kuchta said. “We knew Ashwaubenon was going to be tough — they don’t have many weaknesses. We
played our best half and we’re still down four at the break.”
The Thunder made 10 field goals in the first half — six of which were from beyond the 3-point arc.
Tru Cornell hit a trio of those long-range bombs to keep Seymour in the game.
Tomashek was impressed by Seymour’s grit and outside shooting.
“They’re never an easy team to play,” he said. “They are well coached, and they don’t give up. We had to match their energy, and sometimes I don’t think we did.”
The Jaguars used their height advantage and took control in the second half.
Ashwaubenon began the second half with a 17-5 surge to grab a 47-31 lead with about seven minutes remaining.
Drew Tomashek hit a pair of 3s and added another bucket during the run for the Jaguars.
The Thunder also went cold from the field.
“We started the second half like 0-for-8, and Ashwaubenon wore us down,” Kuchta said. “All season long, our guys have been undersized. We needed two good halves to have a chance. We
figured we’d have to hold Ashwaubenon in the 50s to have a chance, but we struggled to score.”
Drew Tomashek led the Jaguars with 16 points, while Uhl added 15 and Kelly 10.
“Seymour is a tough team,” Kelly said. “When we scouted them, we knew we had a height advantage, so we tried to take advantage of that.”
Coach Tomashek and his coaching staff made a conscious effort to pound the ball inside against the undersized Thunder.
“That was the plan,” he said. “We did a good job at times, but other times we got away from it.
Seymour doesn’t give you anything easy — they get in the gaps. Their man-to-man defense is extremely good.”
The loss for the Thunder ended the careers of six seniors — Pace Jefferson, Chase Kuske, Noah Leisgang, Nathaniel Krull, Carter Caliaro and Hunter Stephan.
“The seniors are high-character guys who worked hard and were fun to coach,” Kuchta said. “We were in almost every game — it’s hard to be disappointed when the kids played hard all season.”