Forgive Robbie Pollman if he doesn’t appreciate the significance that Jan. 31, 2013, holds for the Sevastopol boys basketball program. Don’t be shocked that coach Andy Symons does.
That was the night when the Pioneers defeated Gibraltar 50-48 to improve to 2-9 in the Packerland Conference. What was conceivably an innocuous conference win at the time was the beginning of a long journey to the next one.
Fast forward to Jan. 7, 2019, and 80 consecutive Packerland Conference losses later. Sevastopol defeated Algoma 70-43 to pick up a long-awaited win, and now Pollman has joined Symons in noting the significance of the victory.
“Breaking the losing streak feels great,” Pollman said. “I am glad to be a part of it and make Sevastopol known again for athletics. I like to win, but it feels good to be a part of the school that I have been going to my whole life.”
“We got that monkey off our back, and hopefully our next conference win doesn’t take as long,” Symons quipped. “The kids were excited. They were ready to get back to work the next day and continue the winning streak.”
Pollman scored 22 points in the Pioneers’ win against Algoma. The five-foot-10-inch junior is the Pioneers’ leading scorer at 18.3 points per game after leading the team in scoring as a sophomore, with 12.1 points an outing. Pollman has scored in double figures in all but two games this season, including a 34-point outburst against Stockbridge in the Lena Holiday Tournament.
“Robby has put a lot of time in [during] the off-season improving his game,” Symons said. “He’s the type of kid where he can score in multiple different ways of offense. He’s a good shooter, not afraid to get in the paint and score at the basket against the bigs, and has showed the most improvement shooting off the dribble. All his hard work is showing.”
Symons said his team is playing with confidence right now and is looking to pick up some more wins going into tournament play. Sevastopol followed up the win over Algoma with a tough two-point loss to local rival Gibraltar on the road.
“Coach Symons has put a tremendous amount of effort into improving Sevastopol’s basketball program,” Gibraltar coach Justin Burress said. “He has a great group of athletes this year, and I am happy for him and his program that they were able to get a win over Algoma.”
Any team that goes almost six years without a conference win is bound to have at least a handful of close losses. The Pioneers led 12-2 Peshtigo by five points at halftime, only to lose by three points. Peshtigo is 7-1 in the conference and sits just one game behind Southern Door for the league lead.
“When we played them earlier in the year, I felt they brought great energy and attitude into the game,” Peshtigo coach Nate Motkowski said. “We were lucky to get a W that night because of our own poor play and energy. I give their players, coaches and families a ton of credit for not giving up or losing any fire or commitment.”
Burress and Motkowski both said Sevastopol’s program may be on the upswing, and with four out of the six top scorers returning, it would be hard to disagree. Brent Haberli (14.5 points per game), Johnny Jorns (6.5 ppg) and Arthur Hocevar (3.7 ppg) will provide much-needed experience and depth along with Pollman next season. The Pioneers will need to find replacements for seniors Vidal Rosales and Eddie Garcia, who combine to score 10 points and grab 13 rebounds per game.
“Personally, I am really looking forward to my senior year,” Pollman said. “I hope to win more games and to have a better team than we have had in a long time. We will come out strong, and we will be working hard during the off-season preparing for it.”