DE PERE– The conference title drought is over for the West De Pere girls basketball team.
The Phantoms pulled away Friday night to beat the Thunder 50-38 and clinch a share of their first conference title since 1980.
West De Pere can secure the outright Bay Conference championship with a win at New London on Thursday. If the Bulldogs win, it would create a three-way tie for the championship, allowing the Thunder to win a share of its first title since 1991.
But the only thing West De Pere coach Ashley Anthon thought about sharing Friday was a different piece of advice for her team before it took the court for its regular-season home finale.
“She usually says we need to be intense and we need to be fired up,” West De Pere senior Bailey Denis said. “But before this game she was like, ‘Ok, I think the intensity will be there. We just need to collect ourselves and be the more composed and calm team on the court.'”
The Phantoms were.
West De Pere’s Liz Edinger (12) takes a shot over Seymour’s Kaitlyn Hein (30) in the first quarter during Friday night’s game at West De Pere High School.
Clinging to a four-point lead entering the fourth quarter, West De Pere (17-4, 13-2) quickly pushed its lead up to nine points with a basket from Denis and a 3-pointer by freshman Brehna Evans.
Evans hit a trey in the first half to help build the Phantoms’ lead to nine as well before the Thunder stormed back with a 12-3 run to tie the game 22-22 at the half.
However, Seymour (17-5, 13-3) didn’t have the same type of answer following Evans’ second 3-pointer.
“That was a huge play,” Anthon said. “That was a huge shot. That really stretched the game and allowed us to work the ball and work for really high-percentage shots after that and force them to foul.”
West De Pere went 23-for-31 from the free-throw line, including 13-for-19 in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Hannah Stefaniak was 12-for-14 from the charity stripe in scoring a game-high 19 points.
Stefaniak hit a deep 2-point field goal early, which she followed with a trey from the left corner during a first quarter that saw the Phantoms shoot 6-for-8 from the field.
“They came out with a lot of energy and we didn’t match it real well to start with,” Seymour coach Nick Darnick said.
“We fought back. I really thought that we had caught some momentum and kind of figured out what we needed to do offensively and defensively. In the second half it just didn’t work out for us.”
Senior Asia Danforth and freshman Hailey Oskey each scored nine points to pace the Thunder, which could have won the conference title outright with a win Friday.
Instead, West De Pere swept the regular-season series between the pair of state-ranked Division 2 teams, which could meet for a third time in a sectional semifinal.
But the Phantoms first want to make sure they win their regular-season finale to ensure they don’t have to share their long-awaited title.
“I told them to maintain your composure and move onto the next play,” Anthon said. “I think this is a great start to a two-game increment. It’s the biggest two-game increment we’ve had in 35 years at West De Pere.”
Seymour … 8 14 6 10 – 38
West De Pere … 15 7 10 18 – 50
SEY: Danforth 9, Zahn 4, Krause 6, Oskey 9, Hein 7, Heinke 3. 3-pt: Oskey 1, Hein 1. FT: 10-14. F: 23. Fouled out: Danforth, Heinke.
WDP: Denis 7, Edinger 5, Carriveau 2, Evans 7, Strick 8, VanVonderen 2, Stefaniak 19. 3-pt: Evans 2, Stefaniak 1. FT: 23-31. F: 15.