Back-to-back nonconference wins underscore resilience of Port boys during stretch of four games in eight days
Port Washington coach John Bunyan had a sneaking suspicion that his boys’ basketball team would have its mettle tested during the second half of December.
Playing four games against tough foes during an eight-day stretch, he reasoned, should provide an idea of how good the Pirates will be this season.
The acid test that ended with a nonconference win last week didn’t leave Port unblemished, but it did produce three wins and plenty of positives.
“I think we’re in good shape, although we haven’t played our best basketball yet,” said Bunyan, whose team finished the test with a 69-54 win over Brookfield Academy on Dec. 22.
“We had one disappointing game (a loss to Whitefish Bay on Dec. 18) during that stretch, but we learned from it. We’re getting better.”
The Pirates, who took a 6-1 overall record into a nonconference contest Tuesday against Escanaba (Mich.), capped their pre-Christmas schedule with a solid performance.
Against Brookfield Academy, Port absorbed a one-two scoring punch to win handily.
Forward Marquis Jordan tossed in 26 points and guard Troy Huff added 25, but the rest of the Blue Knights combined for just three points. The two-man show simply wasn’t enough to keep pace with the Pirates’ more balanced attack.
Guard Josh Gasser scored a game-high 27 points for Port, which also got 22 from forward Cory Steinmetz.
Shane Kennedy and Luke Schueller added eight and six points, respectively, for the Pirates.
Bunyan was particularly impressed with Steinmetz, who “was really efficient in the way he played.”
“Cory took advantage of his scoring opportunities and didn’t miss many shots all night,” Bunyan said. “He had what you’d call a quiet 22 points.”
Bunyan also praised the hustle of forward Kyle Rismeyer and guard Marcus Lack-ovic, who gave the Pirates a lift in reserve roles.
“They both played good defense and handled the ball well,” he said.
Brookfield Acad-emy, which plays in the Midwest Classic Conference, held a 14-12 lead after one quarter. However, the Knights fell victim to a Port scoring blitz in the second period, which gave the Pirates a 38-22 lead at halftime.
Brookfield Academy pared the margin in the third quarter but never got closer than 10 points.
The Knights brought a 5-1 record into the game but lacked the focus to stay in contention against a Port team that has established itself as one of the state’s top Division 2 squads.
“Brookfield Academy has some talented players, but they didn’t play very good team basketball,” Bunyan said. “That made them easier to defend.”
At the other end of the court, the Knights struggled to match up inside with Port, which cashed in at the free-throw line. The Pirates made 15 of 17 foul shots compared to their opponent’s 1-for-4 effort.
Brookfield Academy did most of its scoring from the perimeter. Jordan hit four three-pointers in the game, and Huff, a University of North Dakota recruit, had three.
The win was Port’s second straight since a 62-48 road loss to Bay, which Bunyan said reminded his players about the importance of fundamentals.
“We got outrebounded and turned the ball over too much in that game,” he said. “It reminded us of what we have to do well to be successful.”
The Pirates entered the holiday break at 2-1 in the North Shore Conference, good for a second-place tie with Bay and Nicolet. Both teams trail Homestead (3-0).
Port will resume league play next week with a pair of 7:30 p.m. road games — Jan. 5 at Milwaukee Lutheran and Jan. 8 at Cedarburg.
FORWARD CORY STEINMETZ scored 22 points to help the Port Washington boys’ basketball team overpower Brookfield Academy in a nonconference game last week. Photo by Sam Arendt