The Phantoms have a big appetite.
“Just before our big games, we’ve been doing it,” Zack Sanders said.
The West De Pere guard has invited his teammates over for their pregame dinner the night before all their important game. Spaghetti and meatballs are the main course and victories are for dessert.
After a rocky start to the season – and thanks at least in part to the special meals prepared by the gracious Sanders’ family – the Phantoms have meshed to make an inspired run to the Division-2 state tournament. They began the year just 5-5 but knocked off top-seeded Kaukauna and Seymour en rout to state for the second straight season.
“The kids just being really determined, and they just kind of started hanging out more together as a team and basketball is such a team sport and those guys just gelled,” head coach Andy Werner asserted.
The Phantoms have won 15 of their last 16 games after they began bonding away from the hardwood.
“We stated what our one goal was and that is to win games and get to this point, try to get back to Madison,” Schwartz continued. “Off the court we’ve been hanging out a lot more together and that chemistry has just been huge for us.”
Previously to their state appearance last year, West De Pere hadn’t made it this far in the bracket since 1933. And their familiarity to the arena, the pressure and the experience in Madison – even if it was a disappointing loss to Wisconsin Lutheran – gives the Phantoms an extra edge.
“I feel we got our feet wet and this year we know what to expect so I’m hoping that helps us out a little bit,” senior Connor Konchek said. “This year we’re a little more focused on what the ultimate goal is and what we have to do to get there.”
And West De Pere is hungry for more.