DE PERE - West De Pere and Seymour are both undefeated in the Bay Conference, but until further notice Seymour remains the team to beat.
The last time the Phantoms won a league boys basketball title there was no 3-point line, but behind super sophomore Cody Schwartz the Phantoms are aiming to end their drought.
When asked about the last time the team won a title, coach Andy Werner leaned back, looked at the banners in the West De Pere fieldhouse and said, "1986."
Schwartz didn't look and said, "'86, is it?'
Guard Matt DeBaker added: "1986."
West De Pere enters Thursday game with Shawano, 7-1, 4-0 in the Bay, while Seymour is 6-0 in the Bay. The Phantoms have done what's needed so far to show Seymour there's somebody to be concerned about.
"We've put together a good run here," Werner said. "I know we have some good teams coming up, that we're getting ready for. We're trying to get better. We got a lot of young guys on the team."
The Bay Conference was realigned for the 2007-08 season and Seymour has dominated, winning the last four league titles, while placing second in the first year. This year, though, West De Pere thinks it has what it takes to end Seymour's reign.
"We're playing at a high level," DeBaker said. "We kind of got all the aspects. We've got scorers, we've got defenders, we've got energy guys."
Tops among those players is Schwartz. The 6-8 sophomore has already received an offer from Green Bay in addition to other Division I schools.
"He's put on about 15 pounds and got himself in the weight room which was the biggest thing last year," Werner said. "He's still getting better. He's got things to improve on and obviously he's a nice player so we can feature some of things he does well. He's leading us right now."
Schwartz is averaging 19.8 points per game and his teammates notice a difference from last year.
"Last year, he'd get hot and take anything that's open," DeBaker said. "A lot of times now he's coming out and getting everyone involved. If he's in rhythm taking his shot, he's hard to guard."
Schwartz is more at ease on the court.
"I feel so much more comfortable this year than I did last year," Schwartz said. "Last year was kind of maybe proving a little bit that you belong on the team being a freshman, stuff like that.
"This year, you know what your role is, everybody knows what their role is and it's just a lot better."
Schwartz is proven and now wants to lead West De Pere to that elusive conference title and add a number on the banner after "1986."
"To win the Bay after Seymour has won it all those times; it'd be really nice," he said. "I kind of have that number in my head and I'd like to put one up there. It's been a long time."
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
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