Panthers look to be tougher in rematch with Port

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

KOLLIN NEILS, Plymouth guard, drives to the basket against West Bend East’s Collin Liebherr in Saturday night’s regional basketball finals. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley KOLLIN NEILS, Plymouth guard, drives to the basket against West Bend East’s Collin Liebherr in Saturday night’s regional basketball finals. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth Panthers know they have to play harder and more physical if they want to avenge an earlier-season loss to Port Washington in the Division 2 boys sectional semifinal matchup Thursday, March 6.

The game tips off at 7 p.m. at Sheboygan South. PHS, 21-3, is riding an 11- game winning streak, with its last defeat at the hands of Port Washington, 63-48, on Jan. 14.

In the teams’ first meeting, the Pirates (14-10) were more physical and outworked the Panthers, and were sparked on offense with six three-point goals.

“This time we will have to play with great energy and enthusiasm on the defensive end, move the ball and attack the rim on the offensive end,” said Panther head coach Jason Duff.

“We’re going to have to rebound better and generally be tougher than we were last time around.

“Port Washington is a good team with an emphasis on the word team. They have players that compliment each other well,” Duff observed.

“When I watch them play, each player has a specific role to play in their success. It’s obvious that they are well-coached because this is one of the hardest things for a basketball coach to get his players to embrace – the importance of each guy doing his part to help the team succeed.”

Pirate head coach Brian Hebein expects a great matchup because he said both teams are similar in size and have the ability to shoot the ball pretty well.

Hebein pointed out what he thinks will be the key to the outcome.

“The most crucial thing is to go out and play loose. It’s easier said than done but the team that comes out focused but still plays loose will gain an advantage,” he said.

“The keys for us all season long have been to play solid on defense and make sure that we rebound with all five guys. We aren’t the biggest of teams, so we need all five boxing out and pitching in to rebound. “Our strength on offense is when we are spreading the ball around and attacking the lane and then looking for kick-outs to our spot-up shooters. We try not to rely on just one person but make all five positions be a threat,” noted Hebein. Hebein offered his impressions of the Panthers.

“Plymouth is an extremely wellcoached team. They play unselfish basketball and can put pressure on you in many different ways,” he said.

“They have a couple of good full-court presses that can lead to easy run-outs for them and really get you back on your heels as a team.”

Duff said senior leadership has been the main key to his team’s success this season. He said the team’s mindset is to control the things it can control – energy, effort and attitude.

Junior guard Al’Tavius Jackson is the Pirates’ top scorer with a 13.9 points-pergame average, followed by senior forward Sam Weiland at 12.5.

The Panthers’ leading scorer is senior guard Kollin Neils with a 19.1 average. Senior forward Tom Jankowski is second at 14.7.

Jankowski is the top rebounder at 5.9 per contest. Neils leads in assists with a 4.0 average and steals, 2.1 per game.

The PHS-Port Washington winner advances to the sectional finals Saturday at Manitowoc Lincoln against the Seymour-West De Pere semifinal victor. The game is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m.

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