Mickey Martin saw the fire in the eyes of his Little Chute boys’ basketball team at a practice early Saturday morning prior to their game against Seymour.
This showdown with the Thunder was special for the Mustangs. No doubt about it.
“At the shoot-around, you could tell,” he said. “They were champing at the bit.”
After a slow start, the Mustangs flexed their collective defensive muscle against the top-ranked team in Division 2 en route to a convincing 48-30 victory over the Thunder.
The win improved Little Chute to 14-1. The Mustangs were ranked third in the latest Associated Press poll.
“I think our guys had this date circled on their calendar,” Martin said. “It should be no surprise that our guys like playing in these types of games. We’ve done that now for two or three years and with Seymour coming in, they were ready.”
The Thunder bolted ahead 11-6 after the first quarter, getting three-pointers from Dakota Oskey, Sandy Cohen and Casey Jefson.
From there, it was all Little Chute, with the Mustangs defense swarming Oskey and Cohen and forcing the Thunder to take low-percentage shots.
“We came out of the gates playing well but we just couldn’t make a shot — zero-for-10 in the second quarter. And we were nine-of-43 for the game,” Seymour coach Jon Murphy said. “You can’t beat quality teams like that.
“But give Little Chute credit. Their defense pushed us away from the basket and we ended up settling for bombs.”
The Mustangs held Seymour scoreless in the second quarter and broke off a 14-0 run through the early parts of the third quarter that bumped Little Chute’s lead to 22-11 at one point.
A sensational alley-oop slam from Kenny Lowe off a Mitch Ciske feed and a three-pointer from Jed Albers were key plays in that run.
“Just like what (teammate D.J. DeValk) gave us when he got the dunk in the last game, it was a spark and once the fans get into the game, it got the ball rolling,” Lowe said of his slam.
The Mustangs not only celebrated the impressive win, but Turner Botz also became the program’s all-time points leader with a made free throw in the fourth quarter.
Botz led Little Chute with 18 points, a majority of those coming in the second half from the wing. He also played outstanding defense on Cohen.
“I’ll come in here because I need something on Sunday morning or whenever I just have to come in here and get something and he’ll be in here and the lights will be on,” Martin said. “Of course, when your dad is the superintendent, it’s a little easier to get into the gym. But the way it all played out with him getting those two three-pointers at the end of the game and to get a nice standing ovation, we couldn’t have planned that out any better.
“Today’s a good day for Little Chute basketball.”
Lowe added 17 points for Little Chute. Oskey had 12 points and Cohen added nine for Seymour (12-3), including a pair of dunks.
“We had no answer for Lowe inside,” Murphy said. “They’re a well-rounded team and you have to commit a couple of guys to Lowe and they have the ability to kick to Botz, Ciske and Albers. They can all shoot. That’s a nice team.
“I told our guys, (Little Chute) is a team that has a legit shot at a state title. They have all the pieces.”
Seymour: Oskey 12, Cohen 9, Jefson 4, Heiden 2, Bucholz 3. Totals: 9 8-12 30. Three-pointers: Oskey 2, Cohen, Jefson. Fouls: 12.
Little Chute: Ciske 6, Albers 3, Botz 18, Job 4, Lowe 17. Totals: 20 7-10 48. Three-pointer: Albers. Fouls: 14.
— Ricardo Arguello: 920-993-1000, ext. 558, or firstname.lastname@example.org; On Twitter @PCRicardo