Hard work, teamwork key Panthers’ successful season

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff


THE PLYMOUTH BOYS basketball team won its second straight EWC championship with a 12-2 record and was 17-7 overall for the season. The team includes (front row, left to right) manager Aaron Schilsky, Kollin Neils, Tom Jankowski, Collin Denzin, Owen Henriksen, Clay Henning, Cory Unger, Andrew Staehling, Eric Majerus, (back row) coach Jason Jaeckels, coach Josh Oppeneer, head coach Jason Duff, Kevin Friederichs, Jordan Mueller, Eric Nygaard, Zac Cain and Kyle Lisowe. Not pictured are managers Ben Wentz, Nate Bennin, Nick Stucke and Preston Beyer. — Photo by Curt Coenen THE PLYMOUTH BOYS basketball team won its second straight EWC championship with a 12-2 record and was 17-7 overall for the season. The team includes (front row, left to right) manager Aaron Schilsky, Kollin Neils, Tom Jankowski, Collin Denzin, Owen Henriksen, Clay Henning, Cory Unger, Andrew Staehling, Eric Majerus, (back row) coach Jason Jaeckels, coach Josh Oppeneer, head coach Jason Duff, Kevin Friederichs, Jordan Mueller, Eric Nygaard, Zac Cain and Kyle Lisowe. Not pictured are managers Ben Wentz, Nate Bennin, Nick Stucke and Preston Beyer. — Photo by Curt Coenen PLYMOUTH – A strong work ethic and good teamwork sparked the Plymouth boys basketball team to an outstanding season.

The Panthers earned their second straight Eastern Wisconsin Conference title with a 12-2 record, advanced to the Division 2 regional finals and posted a 17-7 overall mark.

“All in all, I think it was a successful season,” said Panther head coach Jason Duff.

“By conventional standards, we won our share of games and competed hard every night. We also improved and were playing very good basketball at the end of the year.”

“I think the key to our success was our work ethic. People see the product on the floor at 7:30 [game time] but not many realize what it takes to get to that point – countless hours of practice over the years in all seasons, at all times of the day or night,” Duff pointed out.

“You can’t just show up on the first day of practice with basketball shoes on and think you’re going to be successful.

“The other key is teamwork. If you care more about yourself than you do your teammates, you are doomed to fail. This game requires a level of cooperation and togetherness that not many other sports can match,” said Duff who was named the EWC’s Coach of the Year for the second straight season.”

Duff thought winning the EWC championship and upsetting West De Pere in the regional semifinals were the highlights of the season. On the final night of the regular season, the Panthers defeated New Holstein, and Sheboygan Falls up- set Waupun which gave PHS the outright league crown. Waupun finished second at 11-3.

The Panthers knocked off West De Pere, ranked No. 3 in the D-2 Associated Press poll, in impressive fashion, 59-43, on the road. PHS lost a heartbreaker at No. 7-ranked Seymour, 62-61, in the regional finals.

“We had some very good younger players this year but we don’t do what we did without the five seniors – Cory Unger, Owen Henriksen, Jordan Mueller, Kevin Friederichs and Kyle Lisowe,” said the coach.

Duff appreciated the help from his coaching staff and the support from the community and some individuals this past season.

“Special thank-yous to the best assistant coaches in the state, Josh Oppeneer, Jason Jaeckels, Scott Richards and Erik West; Randy Schmitz, our scorekeeper; Adam Brill, our trainer; Bank First National and Meyer Motors, our halftime shooting sponsors; and everyone else in this community that values high school athletics and is willing to come out and support it,” Duff said.

Duff is excited about next season. The Panthers return nine letter winners, including junior guard Kollin Neils who was named to the All-EWC first team for the second straight year. PHS had strong junior varsity and freshman teams this past season which bodes well for the varsity’s future.

“We are optimistic that the culture is in place that players will continue to work on their games this off-season and stay hungry for success. We are excited about the possibilities that lay ahead,” he said.

FINAL STATS, AWARDS

Neils was named the Panthers’ Most Valuable Player for the past season. He earned Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association D-2 all-state honorable mention. Neils led PHS in scoring and three-point goals (26), and tied for first in steals with Unger.

Other award-winners were Unger, Defensive Player of the Year; Eric Majerus, Most Improved; and Mueller and Henriksen, Mortar Awards. Unger was the EWC’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Tom Jankowski paced PHS in rebounding and Henriksen led in assists. Zac Cain hit a team-high 52.0 percent from the field overall.

Collin Denzin was first in threepoint shooting at 38.6 percent (17 of 44). Eric Nygaard was the top foul shooter with 78.8 percent (26 of 33).

The Panthers averaged 59.7 points per game on offense and allowed only 48.8 per contest on defense.

The varsity letter winners include seniors – Mueller, Unger, Lisowe, Henriksen and Friederichs; juniors Neils, Nygaard, Denzin, Clay Henning, Andrew Staehling, Jankowski, Majerus and Jack Heginbottom; and sophomore Cain.

FINAL PLYMOUTH BOYS
BASKETBALL STATISTICS
Scoring Leaders

Pts. Avg.
Kollin Neils.…………...........327 13.6
Cory Unger…......................271 11.3
Rebounding Leaders
No. Avg.
Tom Jankowski.....................92 3.8
Jordan Mueller……...............88 3.7
Steal Leaders
No. Avg.
Unger….................................46 1.9
Neils.………….......................45 1.9
Assist Leaders
No. Avg.
Owen Henriksen...................68 3.8
Unger….................................68 2.8


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