There is supposed to be no downside to winning.
But no matter how great Seymour’s victory over West De Pere in the season finale was, when the Thunder topped the Phantoms to win the Bay Conference despite losing its second-best player, Dakota Oskey, to a severe ankle injury, Seymour coach Jon Murphy knew trouble lurked.
“I said the last time we beat West De Pere and (Oskey) got hurt was that we may have won the battle,” said Murphy, “but might have lost the war.”
It was an epic battle for much of three quarters Thursday before the Phantoms steadily pulled away to post a 60-50 WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal victory to end the No. 1 Thunder’s season at 23-2.
West De Pere (21-4) will face Port Washington (15-10) for the right to advance to the Division 2 state tournament on Saturday.
West De Pere coach Andy Werner said his team learned its lessons well after two earlier losses to the Thunder this season.
“We lost to Seymour twice and I told the kids that if it pays off in the end it’s worth it, because we’re going to learn from that,” said Werner. “And we did. That was the biggest difference.”
The Phantoms would only trail twice in the game and when Zackary Sanders drained a long three at the halftime buzzer, West De Pere took a 23-22 lead, one which they never gave up again.
“This is the third time we’ve played them and it’s the most intense I’ve ever seen them play on defense,” said Seymour senior Dakota Oskey.
Marquette recruit Sandy Cohen was a one-man wrecking crew for Seymour in the first half, as he scored all 12 of the Thunder’s points in the opening quarter and 16 of his team’s 22 at the half. But he just didn’t get enough help.
“I thought they really had a great game plan,” said Murphy. “They were relentless on (Cohen) for 32 minutes and kind of daring the other kids to beat them, and we just didn’t tonight.”
A 7-2 run gave the Phantoms a 36-28 lead late in the third quarter, and when Sanders drilled his third three-pointer of the game with 4:32 left to play, West De Pere was ahead 46-35 and never let the lead get below five points the rest of the way.
“We knew that they were playing at a high level right now and I thought we were too,” said Murphy. “The exception was we needed Dakota at full strength. He just couldn’t do what he could do. He was relegated to jump shooting and his game is blowing by people.”
Oskey said he could only play at a 60 percent level.
“To be honest with you it was shocking I could even play,” he said. “I completely tore like two ligaments. I worked with my trainer a lot and was just thankful I got the opportunity to play. It just wasn’t all there.
“I could only shoot a jump shot. I couldn’t go by anybody or create anything.”
West De Pere was led by its two Division 1 recruits, with senior Chandler Diekvoss and junior Cody Schwarz each scoring 19 points. Cohen finished with 26 points for Seymour.
“We changed our whole mentality going into the playoffs,” said Schwarz. “Xavier had Matt Ferris who is a good player, Ashwaubenon had Kyle Monroe and tonight it was Sandy Cohen. And we practiced so hard every day to lock out that one player because they’re the difference makers. If we can take them out, or slow them down, we’ve got a really good shot at winning.”
|West De Pere…||…13||10||13||24||—||60|
West De Pere: Fink 2, Sanders 9, Bostedt 1, Pannier 2, Konshak 8, Diekvoss 19, Schwartz 19. Totals 22 10-16 60. Three-pointers: Sanders 3, Schwartz 3. Fouls: 18.
Seymour: Oskey 5, Cohen 26, Jefson 3, Powless 5, Wilinski 10, Buchholtz 1. Totals 14 15-22 50. Three-pointers: Cohen 2, Wilinski 2, Jefson, Oskey, Powless. Fouls: 15.