Eight points or .444 per minute

Port Washington turns up the defense in second half to topple Cedarburg

MARCUS SCHMIT OF Port Washington got a steal and drew a foul by Cedarburg’s Drew Biber in the first half of the Pirates win Friday night at home. Photo by Mitch Maersch
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

The Port Washington High School boys’ basketball team’s confidence dropped a little after struggling on defense in a loss on Jan. 26 and then only had one practice last week due to exams and record cold weather.

The Pirates began playing accordingly in hosting Cedarburg last Friday in the second half of a girls-boys doubleheader.

The Bulldogs took an early lead and stretched it to 34-16 with 5 minutes and 5 seconds left in the first half.

Then the real Pirates came out to play.

Exponentially increasing the defensive intensity, they allowed the Bulldogs to score 10 points for the rest of the game — nearly 23 minutes — including just eight in the second half.

That helped ignite their bench, fans and offense which all added up to a 60-44 win over one of their North Shore Conference rivals.

“At halftime, (Coach Brian) Hebein just said we’ve got to lock down on defense. That’s all we’ve got to worry about. We came out, we upped the pressure, we just forced turnovers,” senior point guard Adam Baierl said.

With 13:51 to play, Tamai McKoy Jackson drove the lane and banked in a shot from the side to tie the game at 36-36.

One minute later, Evan Lilly drained a three-pointer at the top of the key to give the Pirates a lead that they would not relinquish.

“It was crazy. Finally got the bench back into it,” Lilly said of the shot. “The student section was crazy. Gave us all a lot of confidence and just kind of helped us throughout the game.”

Baierl scored a game-high 25 points, and Lilly had 15, including five three-pointers.

Baierl knew the Lilly three-pointer that got the lead was key.

“Evan hit that three and that just gave us the momentum,” he said.

Nolan Mueller had six points and McKoy Jackson and Seth Perez each had five.

The Pirates cut the first-half deficit to 36-28 by the break and started the second half in a 1-2-2 three-fourths-court press that they hadn’t played in a while.

“Creating chaos, that’s what it did for us,” Hebein said.

“We got some turnovers, got some steals got some runouts. Now you start playing with a lot more confidence.”

Mueller noticed the difference.

“Later in the first half we really stepped it up. There was just a boost of energy our coach gave us,” he said.

The Pirates eventually eased up on the press but kept the intensity. On offense, they slowed down and worked to get the shot they wanted, picking apart a Bulldogs team that could see the game had slipped away.

“We go patience. We talk about getting a layup or free throws, and that’s what the guys did, so they did a great job with it,” Hebein said.

Although the Bulldogs left with proverbial their tails between their legs, they started the game as the aggressors and better shooters. The Bulldogs moved the ball well and annoyed the Pirates on defense enough to keep them off their game.

Drew Biber scored 12 to lead the Bulldogs. Jake Leair had 10 and Nick Johnson had eight.

Going on a 44-10 run in the game’s final 23 minutes — 32-8 in the second half — wasn’t exactly in the game plan, but Hebein figured things might go south early because of the lack of practices.

“The first 12 minutes or so was what I thought it would be,” he said.

“Holding a team to 8 points on the varsity level for a half is extremely impressive.”

While not an earth-shattering victory — Port went to 7-5 and Cedarburg to 3-10 in the NSC — the nature of it could linger.

“It just shows that how bad the guys want it on our team and we’ve got a bunch of fighters on this team and we’re not backing down,” Baierl said.

Lilly said, “It just shows us we can do anything if we just put our mind to it.”

The Pirates were to play at Hartford (7-6) on Tuesday and host Slinger (2-10) on Friday. They host West Bend East (8-5) on Tuesday, Feb. 12, and nationally ranked Nicolet (12-0) on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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