Dons host Loyal in regional final Saturday night
By Steve Pilz
MARSHFIELD — It took Marshfield Columbus Catholic about five minutes to get running and gunning, and when it did, it was lights out for Rosholt.
Top-seed Columbus Catholic (22-2) rolled to a 75-45 blowout of Rosholt in a WIAA Division 5 boys basketball regional semifinal on Friday at Columbus Catholic High School. The Dons will face a very familiar opponent in a regional final Saturday night as they will try to take down the fourth-seeded Loyal Greyhounds (18-6) at 7 p.m.
Friday night’s game was close for the first few minutes as Rosholt hit five of its first seven shots. The feisty visitors even slapped a 1-2-2 full court press on Columbus. It had little effect, but the game remained close for a while.
The Dons boast three first-team all-Cloverbelt Conference East Division players this season with Tyler Fuelinger, Hunter Schultz, and Nick Malovrh. With the he played Friday, some may have guessed Ethan Meece would be included in that list.
The wiry sophomore, who has seeing more playing time with Schultz’s foot injury, came off the bench and was all over the court, making steals and one driving lay-up after another off the Dons’ pressure. Meece had 14 points in the first half and 17 for the game on 8 of 9 shooting.
“We have a group of sophomores and juniors that have had to fill a hole with Hunter (Schultz) out,” Columbus coach Joe Konieczny said. “They’re really not playing like young guys right now. I’m proud and happy that they’re contributing.”
Sophomore Jarred Mandel started for the Dons in Schultz’s absence and had two 3-pointers and 10 points overall.
“Those guys fight hard at practice every day,” Konieczny said. “We had some real successful lower level teams: JV and C team. They’re hungry, and they play incredibly hard. It makes it exciting for the future, but we need to come back down in a hurry because we have Loyal tomorrow, and they’re very good.”
If the Dons were good in the first half, and they were, shooting 52 percent (16-for-31), they were even better in the second half. Led by Cloverbelt East Player of the Year Fuerlinger, the Dons shot 15-for-23 (65 percent) after the break. Fuerlinger had 12 in the half and 19 for the game on 8 of 14 shooting and 2 for 2 at the line.
Adding to the Columbus scoring parade was Charles Payant, who also hit double figures with 11 points.
“Loyal gave us one of our two losses this season,” added Konieczny. “They’ve got three kids that can really score. Coach (Rob) Love does a good job of getting his guys to play hard. It’s going to take a really strong effort on our part to get a win.”
The winner of Saturday’s game moves on to a D-5 sectional semifinal against either Wisconsin Rapids Assumption or Almond-Bancroft on Thursday at Stevens Point.
Dons 75, Hornets 45
Rosholt 19 26 – 45
Columbus Catholic 37 38 – 75
ROSHOLT (45): Hunter Garski 1, Sawyer Fleming 11, Cade Bowker 6, Sawyer Kurtzwieil 22, Travis Hintz 2, Brandon Wanta 1, Johnny Suwyn 2. FG: 16-50. FT: 10-17. 3-pointers: 3-14 (Fleming 2, Kurtzweil). Fouls: 12. Fouled out: none. Record: 14-10.
COLUMBUS CATHOLIC (75): Jarred Mandel 10, Charles Payant 11, Ryan Dieringer 3, Matt Olson 2, Nick Malovrh 2, Bryce Fuerlinger 4, Nick Hutchinson 2, Noah Taylor 6, Ethan Meece 17, Tyler Fuerlinger 18. FG: 31-54. FT: 7-12. 3-pointers: 4-16 (Mandel 2, R. Dieringer, Payant). Fouls: 17. Fouled out: none. Record: 22-2.