DE PERE – The calendar shows it’s December.
But the Ashwaubenon and West De Pere boys basketball teams played with a pace Friday that is usually reserved for March.
The No. 6 Jaguars had four players score in double figures and held off the No. 9 Phantoms for a 59-57 nonconference road victory in an impressive early-season matchup between a pair of ranked Division 2 teams from Wissports.net’s preseason poll.
West De Pere senior Cody Schwartz missed a contested 3-pointer from the left wing at the buzzer after Ashwaubenon senior Kyle Monroe split a pair of free throws following a foul with 8.8 seconds remaining.
Schwartz finished with a game-high 28 points, while Monroe totaled 14 points, four rebounds, six assists and four steals to lead a balanced Jaguars attack.
“This is a huge win for us because they’re one of the top teams in the area, and I think the state, too,” said Monroe, a Michigan Tech recruit. “And just to be able to come into their home place after we had a tough game on Tuesday, I think was great for us.”
Ashwaubenon’s Kyle Monroe (11) steals the ball away from West De Pere’s Cody Schwartz (33) in the first quarter during Friday night’s basketball game at West De Pere High School.
Ashwaubenon got a small measure of revenge for a WIAA regional final loss last season to West De Pere, which went on to advance to state for the first time since 1933.
The Jaguars (1-1) also were able to bounce back from Tuesday’s season-opening loss at No. 8 Kaukauna.
“It’s definitely a lot different than last year because we have four different guys starting,”said Monroe, who is the only returning starter from Jaguars.
“So, we’re going to need people to step up. These two early challenges, I truthfully didn’t know how we were going to do with them, but I think the first game, against Kaukauna, was very sloppy. But to come back this second game and get a win like this is really good for us.”
Turner Wittig (13 points), Sam Wisneski (12) and Zak Imig (10) also got to double figures for Ashwaubenon, which won a share of the Fox River Classic Conference title last season.
Wittig made three 3-pointers in the first half, which ended with Monroe feeding Wisneski for an open trey from the left corner to take a 30-25 lead at the break.
The Jaguars took their first lead midway through the first quarter with a 9-0 run and never trailed the rest of the way. West De Pere closed to within one point four times and tied the contest at 46-46 midway through the fourth quarter.
“They spread us out,” said Schwartz, who had a pair of dunks. “Monroe could handle it from the outside, and we had to go out and guard him. If he got by somebody, they had another guy open. A lot of their role players were making shots. We thought if we could hold Kyle under 20 we would be in pretty good shape.”
West De Pere (1-1) got off to a rough start when Schwartz was tagged for his second foul midway through the first quarter, causing him to sit for the remainder of the frame.
The San Jose State recruit returned to score 11 of the Phantoms’ 13 points in the second quarter.
But seemingly every time Schwartz would make a big play to close the gap, Monroe would answer with one of his own.
“At times, we almost gave him too much attention and that hurt us,” West De Pere coach Andy Werner said about defending last year’s FRCC player of the year.
Monroe and Schwartz are familiar with each other since both play on the same AAU team during the high school offseason.
While Monroe is spending the early part of this season getting used to the new starters in his lineup, Schwartz is waiting for some of West De Pere’s starters to return to the court.
Senior guard Jake Bostedt is close to returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained at the end of last season’s state run.
But senior Connor Konshak isn’t expected to return until the end of January. The 6-foot-3 guard is out with a hand injury sustained at the end of football season.
Bostedt and Konshak would be two of four returning starters for West De Pere, which beat Bay Port in its season-opener Tuesday.
“When we put the schedule together we put Bay Port and Ashwaubenon at the start of the year to find out what you’re all made of,” Werner said. “It was a two-point game (Friday) that could have gone either way, so I’m glad with how our guys battled back.”
Ashwaubenon … 17 13 14 15 – 59
West De Pere … 12 13 16 16 – 57
A: Tews 3, Larsen 5, Wittig 13, Wisneski 12, Monroe 14, Morgan 2, Imig 10. 3-pt: Tews 1, Wittig 3, Wisneski 1, Imig 1. FT: 9-13. F: 16.
W: Owens 5, Sanders 14, Couture 3, Pannier 3, Kempen 2, Evans 2, Schwartz 28. 3-pt: Owens, Sanders 2, Couture 1, Pannier 1, Schwartz 3. FT: 9-12. F: 17.