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West De Pere Looking to "86" Conference Title Drought

The last time the Phantoms won a conference championship in boys basketball was 1986.
As a senior quarterback Matt DeBaker helped lead West De Pere to its 7th straight Bay Conference Football title this past fall.

On the basketball court his role's a little different.

"We've got a bunch of scorers," said DeBaker who is one of only a few senior son the team.  I like to be the guy that can shut down guys on defense.  Everyone fits into their role and I think that's what's good about this team.  Everybody knows their roles.  We're good at what we do."

Winning a league title in basketball certainly hasn't been a slam dunk for the Phantoms program in recent seasons.

It's been 27 years since the West De Pere boy's basketball last won a conference championship.  When you ask the players exactly what year that was, there's no hesitation in their response.

"1986," said sophomore Cody Schwartz when asked.

DeBaker says one of his teammates has a dad who played on the team.

It's been awhile but the Phantoms are proving to be contenders once again.  They are the 3rd ranked team in Division 2 after a 12-1 start to the season, including a perfect 8-0 record in Bay Conference play.

Their biggest win came last week when Schwartz, who's received Division I scholarship offers to Green Bay, Creighton, Northern Iowa and Toledo, connected on a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat Seymour.  The Thunder was previously unbeaten in league play and Seymour is seeking its 5th straight Bay Conference championship.

"We can't be like okay we beat Seymour, and be okay with that," said Schwartz Wednesday.  "Because we're not.  We still have another half of the season.  We don't really expect Seymour to lose another conference game, so we got to go out and take every conference game seriously."

Schwartz is averaging more than 19 points and is one of three sophomores in the top four on the Phantoms in scoring.

"We have a lot of talent, but we don't care about who scores as long as we are winning games," says sophomore guard Jesse Owens.  "That's all that really matters to us." 

And about that lack of experience?

"Experience is good, but if you have the right group of guys you can still win.

"Young, athletic and talented," said DeBaker when asked to describe the only three 10th graders on the team.  "They've been playing together all their lives.  Fearless is a good word to describe it.  It's amazing to watch."

 "They're hungry guys, they want to compete," said head coach Andy Werner.  "They're competitors.  It's kind of like the whole team, just a good group of kids that are just hungry to do good things."

That would include "86-ing" that 27-year Conference Championship drought.

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