DE PERE — A perfect 30-0 record, a Division 1 state title – the De Pere Redbirds boys basketball team had a historic year last year.
Now they’re set to begin their quest to make it back-to-back titles with some big shoes to fill and they know when teams play them, it’s their Super Bowl.
“We learned that last year when you are known for being good, you’re going to have a target on your back and teams are going to bring their best every single time they play because it’s like a Super Bowl to them,” said De Pere senior center Will Hornseth. “They gotta beat you. We’ve already seen that in our scrimmages.”
But last year is now in the rearview mirror.
“We’re not looking back on last season and living in last season,” said De Pere head coach Brian Winchester. “We’re motivated by what’s in front of us and it starts on Saturday in our first game against West De Pere.”
The Redbirds lost a few key seniors to graduation. Including their biggest playmaker, Mr. Basketball winner, point guard Johnny Kinziger.
“It’s big and I think everyone knows that,” Hornseth said about the loss of the graduated senior. “I think we got the guys to step up. I know I’m missing them already, like I loved those guys last year but like I was saying earlier, I know this crew is great too and I know we can fill those spots.”
Wisconsin commit junior Zach Kinziger, who averaged 15 points a game last season will step in to fill his brothers shoes.
“Playing with my brother the last two years, which has been completely awesome, but now it's kind of my turn to step into my own,” said Zach Kinziger. “I kind of took a little bit of a backseat the last two years. So now it’s a great opportunity for me to show what I can do.”
Big man Will Hornseth, a northern Iowa commit is excited to step up alongside Kinziger and help this team write their next chapter.
“Johnny was a great leader and some of those other seniors were great leaders as well, but I think they set a good foundation for Zach and I to step in – be like, “okay this our team, let's become the leaders we want to be and really show who we are’.”
The key for the Redbirds this season, playing together and playing shutdown defense.
“Defense is just a grind, you know,” said Hornseth. “It’s what a lot of teams aren’t willing to do. That has to be our mentality. We’re going to come and we’re going to lockdown on defense because other teams aren’t willing to do that. That’s where we see success compared to other teams.”
Because at the end of this season, they want to hoist that gold ball once again.
“We obviously want that feeling again. I’ve never felt anything like that. Just the hard work you put in, paid off in that moment. We’re chasing that again because it was an incredible feeling,” Kinziger said.