WDP falls in sectional final
By Jordon Lawrenz
The West De Pere boys’ basketball team’s season came to end on Saturday in the sectional final.
Pitting two No. 1 regional seeds, Nicolet downed West De Pere, 66-59. to advance to the Division 2 state tournament.
Todd Deschane’s squad finished the season 16-11.
Nicolet (24-4) got off to a hot start at Menasha High School. Within the first five minutes, the Phantoms found themselves down, 12-5.
Deschane said nerves weren’t a factor.
“Kids weren’t nervous, matter of fact they were really focused prior to the game,” he said. “They played hard but Nicolet hit numerous 3s right away in the first half.”
Similar to their sectional semifinal game against Notre Dame Academy two nights earlier, the Phantoms weren’t going down without a fight. With five minutes remaining in the first half, West De Pere found itself trailing, 27-25. Just two minutes later, the Phantoms had their first lead of the game.
With West De Pere trailing, 32-30, at the half, things were about to change. The Phantoms enjoyed a 40-35 lead a few minutes into the second half, but that’s when Nicolet’s Davion Hannah took over.
“We went ahead by five in the second half before number 25 took over and had what I think was their next 12 points to put them back in front,” Deschane said.
“We had some solid D on him, but he elevated his level of play and made some crucial shots for them in his run.”
Nicolet went on a 16-2 run to put them in the driver’s seat, 51-42. Again though, the Phantoms fought their way back into the game.
With three minutes remaining, the deficit was five. Ultimately, West De Pere trailed 60-57 with one minute left on the clock.
With a trip to state on the line, West De Pere couldn’t come up with a bucket, and Nicolet knocked down its free throws. The deficit remained at three points with 23.1 seconds left, but a missed 3-pointer from the Phantoms didn’t put them in a great position. Nicolet hit all of its free throws down the stretch to pull away.
“At the end of the day, I’m really proud of our guys,” Deschane said. “They made Nicolet earn that victory.”
Deschane had nothing but praise for the likes of his seniors Thomas Walder, Ethan Heck and Sutter Deschane, who played their final game at West De Pere,
“Our seniors were outstanding and they’ve been great leaders all season long,” coach Deschane said. “They set a standard for our younger players to look up to for years to come. They showed up for work every day and gave us their all.
“I’ve been fortunate to be able to have worked with them since third grade and will miss them, but I’m grateful for what they gave to our program. They will always be true Phantoms and we appreciate all that they have done and where they will go from here.”