Top-ranked De Pere boys basketball rolling, still perfect on the season
The Redbirds thrive under the pressure of wearing a target on their backs
DE PERE , Wis. (WBAY) - De Pere boys basketball wears a target on its back. Every. Single. Game.
“Yeah, I think every team we play, they have us circled on their schedule,” said De Pere senior hogan Demovsky.
“We are going to get everyone’s best game,” said fellow senior John Kinziger.
Yet the Redbirds sit unscathed, 14-0 on the season. They own that perfect record and #1 ranking in the state.
“If a loss happens, a loss happens,” said head coach Brian Winchester. “Crtainly we are trying to win every game.”
“We are satisfied with those big-time wins, but we know at the end we have to move on to the next,” Kinziger said. “We have a lot of good games coming up.”
“I don’t think it’s more pressure, it’s a unique opportunity to just keep winning games,” Demovsky said.
They wore this target last year as well, before falling to Menomonee Falls just one step from state in the WIAA Sectional finals. The gold ball is the unequivocal goal this year.
“We are not shying away at all,” Kinziger said. “We have one goal in mind, and that’s to get that state ball.”
“It was just another learning experience,” Winchester said. “It was difficult to lose. Nobody wants to feel that. You feel what it’s like and you don’t want that to happen again. But I don’t think you can just play off that and have that motivate you. You have to be motivated by the opportunity in front of you.”
“We have not hit our full potential,” said De Pere senior Gabe Herman. “We are still uprising, but we are almost there.”
There’s nothing like wearing that target, getting an opponent’s best, and then still dominating. It happened against FRCC rival Bay Port earlier this season. On the road? De Pere went up 43-14 in the first half and never looked back.
“That’s the best feeling, when you know a team is looking forward to playing you and then you just come into their house and take it to them,” Demovsky said. “That’s the best.”
“That was one of the early games where we found out a lot about ourselves,” Winchester said.
And as much as John Kinziger can stuff a stat sheet -- his career high is 35 pts -- even if you take him away they can still make you pay.
“Everyone really knows their goal,” Winchester said. “They come together and know what their job is every night.”
“We are just so deep. even if you take away our starters, our bench is also really deep,” Kinziger said.
And as much as the Redbirds can light up a scoreboard -- to the tune of 74 points per game -- their defense is the straw that stirs this drink.
“I don’t think we have a phrase or a mantra we go to,” Winchester said. “We just talk about it. It’s a priority. We are going to guard. And we are going to guard on every single possession.”
“Every day in practice we always start off with defense to get us going,” Kinziger said. “Because we know in games it always starts with defense and the offense will follow.”
As with most good teams, De Pere shares a close bond.
“We have all been in the program since at least 4th grade,” Herman said.
“Just the way we play together, we have been playing together for a long time.” Demovsky said.
“It’s a really special group of kids. they really enjoy playing with one another and really enjoy practicing,” Winchester said.
But what sets them apart? They like to eat. A lot.
“Yeah we do like to eat,” Herman said. “The day before every game, one of the parents hosts a team dinner. We go there and try to eat as much as we can.”
“My favorite has to be the olive garden meal,” Kinziger said. “It’s amazing. The fettucine alfredo is wonderful.”
“They make it a priority for them to be able to get together and enjoy some time together as a team, but not necessarily on a basketball court,” Winchester said. “And those things go a long ways in team building.”
Plenty of teams eat meals before some games. They do this before every game. Which begs the question, what do they enjoy more? The meals? Or the games?
“You know, it’s close,” Kinziger said. “But I gotta go with playing.”
There are 10 games left in the regular season. Up next? A home date against Bay Port on Tuesday.
Copyright 2023 WBAY. All rights reserved.