Panthers dominate to earn regional title

¦ PHS has rematch with Port Washington in sectional semifinal game
by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff


ZAC CAIN, Plymouth forward, looks for an open teammate after grabbing a rebound in Saturday’s regional basketball fi- nals against West Bend East. The Suns’ Seth Schrank guards Cain. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley ZAC CAIN, Plymouth forward, looks for an open teammate after grabbing a rebound in Saturday’s regional basketball fi- nals against West Bend East. The Suns’ Seth Schrank guards Cain. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley WEST BEND – The Plymouth Panthers came into Saturday night’s Division 2 boys regional basketball championship game with kind of a chip on their shoulder after not receiving a No. 1 seed.

Their opponent, West Bend East, got the No. 1 nod but it was the Panthers who proved they were the top dogs as they rolled past the host Suns, 71-48. PHS, ranked No. 6 in D-2, improved to 21-3 and ran their winning streak to 11. East finished 16-8.

The Panthers will face Port Washington in the sectional semi- finals Thursday at Sheboygan South at 7 p.m. The Pirates, 14-10, defeated PHS, 63-48, on Jan. 14.

“It feels awesome. This was one accomplishment we met but we have a couple more to go,” said Panther senior guard Kollin Neils about the regional crown.


THE PLYMOUTH PANTHERS celebrate with their fans after winning the regional basketball title, 71-48, over West Bend East Saturday night. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley THE PLYMOUTH PANTHERS celebrate with their fans after winning the regional basketball title, 71-48, over West Bend East Saturday night. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley “We have to keep working hard. We played aggressive and that was the key. We knew we deserved the No. 1 seed and we wanted to come out and prove it, and we did. We played well at both ends.”

PHS dominated East on both ends of the court. The Panthers shot a blistering 62 percent from the field, keyed by excellent ball movement which led to several open shots from the perimeter and inside. PHS buried seven threepointers out of only 13 attempts.

The Panthers’ man-to-man defense harassed the Suns all night and really clamped down in the second half when it held East to only 17 points. PHS allowed very few uncontested shots and hit the boards strong as it gave up a minimum number of second-chance opportunities.

PHS went on a 10-2 run to close out the first quarter and build a 20- 12 lead. Junior forward Zac Cain ignited PHS by scoring the team’s last seven points in spurt on three layups, the last two coming off assists by Tom Jankowski and Neils, respectively.

The Suns cut Plymouth’s lead to six at halftime, 37-31, after going on a 12-5 run in the last 3:30 of the second period. Ben Vande Zande fueled the rally with eight points, including two treys.

PHS busted the game open in the fourth quarter as it outscored East 16-4. The Panthers came out with a 14-2 tear which gave them a 69-46 lead with 2:50 left. Cain sparked the PHS run with 10 points and Neils added four.

“I’m proud of the team. This is a great group of guys. We played an excellent ball game,” said PHS head coach Jason Duff.

“The key was that we were able to build a lead in the first quarter and were able to keep the lead in the second half. We played really hard.”

Neils scored a game-high 23 points, including 13 in the first half, Cain contributed 19 coming off the bench and Jankowski hit 18.

Neils also led PHS in assists with six, followed by Collin Denzin with five. Eric Nygaard had a team-high six rebounds.

“We’ve been preparing for this all season,” said Jankowski, a senior forward. “We’ve been working hard and we’ve stayed together as a team.

“Our philosophy is to play angry on every possession.”

“This means a lot because of all the hard work we have put in,” said PHS senior forward Eric Majerus. “I’m very proud of the team. We wanted this really bad.”

PLYMOUTH 71

WEST BEND EAST 48

Score by Quarters

Plymouth…............20 17 18 16 71
West Bend East.....12 19 13 4 48

Plymouth scoring: Kollin Neils 23, Zac Cain 19, Collin Denzin 2, Tom Jankowski 18, Eric Majerus 3, Eric Nygaard 6. Three-point goals: Neils 4, Jankowski 2, Majerus 1. West Bend East scoring: Seth Schrank 6, Hayden Steinhardt 11, Ben Vande Zande 10, Zach Biermann 2, Collin Liebherr 10, Alex Manhardt 9. Threepoint goals: Steinhardt 3, Vande Zande 2, Liebherr 1. Field goals: Plymouth 24-39, 62%; West Bend East 13-40, 32%. Free throws: Plymouth 16-19, 84%; West Bend East 16-26, 62%. Rebounds: Plymouth 24, West Bend East 12. Turnovers: Plymouth 8, West Bend East 12.


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