Tight-knit Panthers have memorable season


THE PLYMOUTH BOYS basketball team had an outstanding 2013-14 season, winning its third straight EWC title and earning a regional crown. Team members include (front row, left to right) Aron Schilsky (manager), Brady Grapentine, Collin Denzin, Clay Henning, Kollin Neils, Dominic Bocchini, Zac Cain, Drew Schwiger, Nick Casper, (back row) coach Tim Schultz, coach Erik West, Jack Sacket, Carter Krzyzaniak, Tom Jankowski, Eric Nygaard, Matt Olig, Eric Majerus, coach Jason Jaeckels and head coach Jason Duff. Not pictured are coach Scott Richards, and managers Nick Stucke and Preston Beyer. — Photo by Curt Coenen THE PLYMOUTH BOYS basketball team had an outstanding 2013-14 season, winning its third straight EWC title and earning a regional crown. Team members include (front row, left to right) Aron Schilsky (manager), Brady Grapentine, Collin Denzin, Clay Henning, Kollin Neils, Dominic Bocchini, Zac Cain, Drew Schwiger, Nick Casper, (back row) coach Tim Schultz, coach Erik West, Jack Sacket, Carter Krzyzaniak, Tom Jankowski, Eric Nygaard, Matt Olig, Eric Majerus, coach Jason Jaeckels and head coach Jason Duff. Not pictured are coach Scott Richards, and managers Nick Stucke and Preston Beyer. — Photo by Curt Coenen PLYMOUTH – The very successful 2013-14 Plymouth boys basketball season encompassed more than the team’s achievements on the court.

The season was also about how much the players and coaches cared for each other and how well they worked together as a unit and played so unselfish.

“The thing I will remember most about the season are the relationships. It was a tight-knit group,” said Panther head coach Jason Duff.

“I’ll remember how much we cared for each other and how whatever we experienced – high, lows, you name it – we experienced it together.

“We had a really good year. I will have a lot of fond memories of this team. We were able to accomplish a great deal on the court but even more than that, off the court this was a special group to be around,” recalled Duff.

“I’m proud of how we competed and how we represented this school and this community. We got better as the season went on.”

The Panthers won their third straight Eastern Wisconsin Conference championship with a 14-0 record, won a Division 2 regional title and finished 21-4 overall. It marked the first time PHS went undefeated in the EWC since the 2007-08 season.

PHS had an 11-game winning streak until a 66-54 loss to Port Washington in the sectional semifinals.

Duff said the season’s highlights included: winning the conference title for the third year in a row and doing it without losing a game, Kollin Neils scoring his 1,000 point and later setting the school boys scoring record, winning a game at the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook Tournament (83-69 over Greendale) and winning a regional championship (71-48 over West Bend East).

Neils, a senior guard, finished his PHS career with 1,228 points. He broke the previous alltime PHS record of 1,180, set by Dave Mikolyzk who played from 1993-96.

Duff pointed out the keys to the team’s success.

“Basketball is the ultimate team sport. It requires unselfishness and the highest level of collaboration to be successful. This group of young men grasped that from day one,” he said.

The Panthers were also fueled by a potent offense and a stingy defense. PHS averaged 66.9 points per game on offense and had a defensive scoring average of 47.8. The Panthers scored well from the perimeter, inside and in transition.

Plymouth’s pressure defense paid off as it forced several turnovers and allowed few uncontested shots in many games. The team averaged an excellent 10.0 steals per contest while the opposition averaged only 3.2.

“Mostly the key to the offense is player skill development. We had a bunch of guys who could dribble, pass and shoot,” said the coach. “We tried to take advantage of that by playing fast and spacing the floor.

“On defense, the key is pressure. We try to keep the pressure on the ball and mix in different traps and variations of the pressure. This works well when you have kids that are willing to play with great effort and who can anticipate the next pass.”

Duff expressed great appreciation for the job that senior team manager Aron Schilsky did for the PHS boys basketball program the past four seasons.

“He embodies what I hope this program and this school stands for – integrity, work ethic, responsibility, initiative and attention to detail. He didn’t score a point for us but I assure you he was as important to our success as anyone. We are going to sorely miss him next year,” said Duff.

Duff also appreciated the work of his coaching staff – Tim Schultz, Jason Jaeckels, Erik West and Scott Richards.

“The sacrifices they have made for this team are incredible. They also are all Plymouth High School graduates which I think is pretty special. We were fortunate to have them on staff,” Duff said.

“A big thank-you to all those that support our program and Plymouth athletics in general. In particular, thank-you to the students. They provided a ton of energy from the stands.”

Duff looked ahead to next season with optimism.

“We’re going to have to get in the gym and get better. There’s no magic potion that turns mediocre players into great players,” he said.

“We think we have a pretty good system in place but it’s up to the players to take ownership of their development. We have a good group of young men in the program so I think they will do what is needed to carry the torch.”

The PHS junior varsity and freshman teams also had outstanding 2013-14 seasons, including an EWC title for both.

FINAL STATS, AWARDS

Neils was named the Panthers’ Most Valuable Player for the second straight season. He was voted the EWC’s Player of the Year, earned All-EWC firstteam honors for the third consecutive season and repeated on the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association

D-2 allstate honorable mention squad.

Neils was also selected to play in the WBCA D-2 All-Star game for the North squad on June 21.

He had an outstanding overall season as he led PHS in scoring with a 19.2 pointsper game averaged, assists at 3.9 per contest and steals with a 2.1 average. Neils also led in three-point goals with 55, three-point shooting with an excellent 43.7 percent and free-throw accuracy at 79.5 percent.

Tom Jankowski, senior forward, was selected the Panthers’ Defensive Player of the Year. Jankowski was the EWC’s Defensive Player of the Year and an all-league first-team choice. He was Plymouth’s top rebounder with a 5.8 average.

Junior forward Zac Cain earned the Panthers’ Most Improved award. Cain led the team in overall field-goal shooting with an impressive 58.1 percent.

Senior forward Eric Majerus received the Panthers’ Mortar Award.

Senior forward Eric Nygaard, an All-EWC second team player, paced PHS in blocked shots with 19.

The varsity letter winners include seniors Neils, Nygaard, Collin Denzin, Clay Henning, Jankowski, Majerus, managers Aron Schilsky and Preston Beyer; and juniors Cain, Dominic Bocchini, Nick Casper, Brady Grapentine, Drew Schweiger, Jack Sacket, Carter Krzyzaniak, Matt Olig and manager Nick Stucke.

FINAL PLYMOUTH BOYS
BASKETBALL STATISTICS
Scoring Leaders

Pts. Avg.
Kollin Neils.…………...........479 19.2
Tom Jankowski....................369 14.8

Rebounding Leaders

No. Avg.
Jankowski............................144 5.8
Eric Nygaard…….................128 5.3

Steal Leaders

No. Avg.
Neils.………….......................52 2.1
Nygaard.................................47 2.0
Jankowski..............................45 1.8

Assist Leaders

No. Avg.
Neils......................................98 3.9
Jankowski..............................67 2.7
Collin Denzin....................... ..59 2.4


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