Milwaukee, WI – Senior guard Keifer Sykes has had some of his biggest scoring games in a Green Bay uniform playing in the Milwaukee Panther Arena against Horizon Conference foe Milwaukee. He dropped a career high 34 points on the Panthers last season in Milwaukee in leading the Phoenix to an overtime win, and he followed that up by scoring another 34 points on Friday night leading Green Bay to a more comfortable 79-63 win over the Panthers.
Looking early for scoring opportunities against mostly a Milwaukee zone, Sykes scored from all three areas of the court in helping stake Green Bay to an early lead it would never relinquish. Catching and shooting from behind the three-point arc, knocking down a pull-up jumper at the elbow and making runners in the paint over secondary defenders, the ultra-athletic Sykes scored 22 points in leading the Phoenix to a 47-27 halftime lead.
“Coach (Brian Wardle) and my teammates wanted me to be more aggressive in the first half,” said Sykes. “I wanted to get some shots up and they felt pretty good.”
“He’s doing what I feel he needs to do by looking to score early,” said Wardle. “If we asked him to get 15 assists, he could do that. But we wanted him to be aggressive, especially in our first conference road game.”
Asked after the game about the Panthers’ approach to playing Sykes, Milwaukee Coach Rob Jeter said, “I don’t know who has the right game plan to stop him. We tried to mix up our defenses and keep him off balance. But he’s very talented, and he’s added a three-point shot to his game. Early in his career, he didn’t shoot that shot with confidence.”
“My shot has gotten a lot better,” said Sykes of his 13-of-20 shooting performance, including making five of six shots from behind the three-point arc. “It’s the result of a lot of hard work,” added Wardle, an excellent shooter in his own right as a star at Marquette in his playing days.
About the only aspect of his game Sykes did not put on display was his high-flying dunking ability. A tremendous leaper, Sykes was still able to wow the Milwaukee crowd when he attacked the basket from the left corner in the second half and elevated above the rim to throw down a shot through contact from a foot or two from the basket. His ensuing free throw bumped the Green Bay lead to 65-50.
Green Bay forward Greg Mays, like Sykes a senior from Chicago, recorded a double-double in scoring 16 points and collecting 11 rebounds, both season high totals for the 6-9 big. Blessed with close to the explosive jumping ability of Sykes, Mays had his way on both backboards. “I thought Mays was real active tonight,” said Wardle. “He had some big offensive rebounds for us in the second half.”
Junior Jordan Fouse, playing 30 miles away from his hometown of Racine, Wisconsin, showed once again why he is one of the best fill-in-the-blank players in collegiate basketball. The 6-7 Fouse, blessed with a huge wingspan, scored eight points, collected seven rebounds, blocked a game-high four shots and recorded a game-high three steals. Fouse, a two-time member of the Horizon League all-defensive team, is the leader of the Phoenix defense that entered the game ranked #21 in the county in fewest points allowed per game.
Junior Green Bay guard and Milwaukee native Carrington Love supplied Sykes will all the backcourt help he needed. Connecting early on a three-point shot from the wing to tie the score at seven, Love proceeded to mostly attack the basket upon future touches and finished with 15 points on six of ten shooting.
One of the bright spots for Milwaukee, as he has been all season, was senior guard Steve McWhorter. A former teammate of Fouse’s at St. Catherine’s High School in Racine, McWhorter tied a career high with 21 points scoring both from distance (4-for-6) and inside the arc (3-for-5) Struggling to score against the taller and bouncier front line of the Phoenix, Milwaukee’s second leading scorer, forward Matt Tiby, was held scoreless for the first 14 minutes of the game. But Tiby made an adjustment at halftime to find better angles and utilize shot fakes to score in the paint and finish with a double-double of his own (13 points; 11 rebounds.)
“I’m proud of how our guys battled in the second half,” said Jeter. Drawing on terminology from the sport of baseball, Jeter lamented the decision making by some of his players as his team was unable to cut the Green Bay second-half lead to single digits. “We were looking to hit a home run with a couple of our passes. Instead of making the singles (safe) pass, we were trying to make the doubles or triples pass, and it cost us.”
As the only player in the country with 1,700-plus points and 400-plus assists, Sykes has been the must-stop player for all Green Bay opponents this season. Despite the extra attention, he has continued to put up big numbers leading the Phoenix in points (18.9) and assists (3.6). With scouts from the Houston Rockets and Miami Heat in attendance and a national audience watching on television, Sykes picked an excellent time to showcase his scoring and leadership abilities as he helped the Phoenix improve their record to 13-3 and 2-0 in conference.
The Phoenix return to Green Bay for a quick turnaround game against Youngstown State on January 11. With its sixth loss in a row, Milwaukee saw its record drop to 5-12 and its Horizon League record fall to 0-3. The Panthers return to play on Wednesday, January 14 when they host Wright State.
Any international players interested in coming to the USA to play in college, prep school or high school can contact us here. We are looking for interns and sales associates. If you’re interested contact us and forward your resume.