Veteran Port boys’ team looks to get healthy


PORT WASHINGTON’S MATT ESSELMANN scored 20 points on Saturday to lead the Pirates in a 69-59 loss to Kewaskum. Press file photo
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

Experience is finally on the side of the Port Washington High School boys’ basketball team.

The Pirates only lost one senior, 6-feet, 4-inch wing player Nick Burmesch, and return everyone else this season from a team that went 1-22 last year.

Senior guard Aedan Egan is back after leading the team with 9.3 points per game last season, as is fellow senior guard Mikey Ross, second in scoring at nine points per game.

Ryan Burmesch, 6-5, will anchor the inside after scoring eight points per game last season. Senior Brayden Thompson will help.

Other guards include seniors Nate Uselding, Patrick Lippe and Brady Fleischmann, juniors Matt Esselmann and Kenyon Davis and sophomore Ben Fritsch.

“We’ve got a lot of experience and the juniors that we have — three were on the team last year as sophomores,” coach Brian Hebein said.

Experience has helped Port start the season at a higher level.

“I think it was a little easier having a lot of guys returning, knowing what we’re doing right away. I’m not having to do as much teaching; it’s more refreshing,” Hebein said.

Depth came into play in the first two games of the season at the Sheboygan South Turkey Classic last weekend. Uselding, Ross and Fritsch are nursing injuries, and Egan hurt his hand on Friday and struggled on Saturday.

The Pirates on Friday lost to Sheboygan South, 67-50. They were down, 23-18, at halftime before turnovers and three-pointers helped the Indians pull away.

“We made a run but they held us off. We played the foul game and they were able to knock down their shots and free throws,” Hebein said.

A couple of potential momentum-altering shots for Port rimmed out, he said

Burmesch had 19 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Egan had 10 points and five assists, and Lippe had nine points and five rebounds, and he made all five of his free throws.

Hebein praised Burmesch and was happy his team got to the free throw line 23 times, although he’d like to make more than 15 of the shots.

On Saturday, Port lost to Kewaskum, 69-59, in a rematch of the Port’s opening round playoff loss in spring.

Esselmann got hot and scored 20 points on 4-for-7 shooting, including going 3-for-5 on three pointers, along with three steals.

Davis had 11 points on 3-for-7 shooting and made all three of his free throws. Thompson had 10 points and four assists. Lippe had eight points, and Burmesch had six points and eight rebounds.

“Matt Esselmann was pretty outstanding in the second half,” Hebein said. “Kenyon gave us a nice spark off the bench. Brayden Thompson was huge for us off the bench.”

Thompson, he said, came in when guard Fleischmann got in foul trouble.

The Indians took a 41-24 halftime lead, but Port outscored them, 35-28, in the second half.

“They’ve got a couple of guards that are pretty good. They’ve got a nice big man who’s pretty physical,” Hebein said of Kewaskum.

The team’s focus, Hebein said, is getting healthy and improving spacing and execution each day. Once Port is firing on all cylinders, it’s going to be a good time.

“I think people enjoy coming to watch us play,” he said. “We’re going to get after it on the defensive end. We’re going to play multiple guys and an up-tempo style. I think we’re going to be pretty fun to watch.”

With so many top North Shore Conference players graduating, Hebein said, Homestead is the favorite to win the league title this season because it returns the most starters, including two top players.

Hebein isn’t going to worry so much about the team’s record. He is working to get everyone stronger and build team chemistry.

“We just want to catch fire, build some confidence and make a run,” he said.

Port starts NSC play on Friday by hosting West Bend East. They play at Grafton on Tuesday, Dec. 7.

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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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