Dons will face Gresham in sectional final Saturday at D.C. Everest
By Steve Pilz
STEVENS POINT — The Marshfield Columbus Catholic boys basketball team avenged a loss from a year ago in the regional final at the hands of Almond-Bancroft.
Leading wire-to-wire Thursday in a WIAA Division 5 sectional semifinal at Stevens Point Area Senior High, the Dons came away with a 75-62 win in a game that was never truly close.
The win puts the Dons (24-2) just a game away from the WIAA state tournament. Columbus will take on Gresham (23-3) in a sectional final at 4 p.m. Saturday at D.C. Everest High School. The winner qualifies for the WIAA State Boys Basketball Tournament at the Kohl Center in Madison. Division 5 semifinals are Friday, March 17, with the championship the next day. Columbus’ only state appearance since joining the WIAA in 2001 came in 2003.
The Dons, known for their perennial intensity and offensive prowess, turned up the defensive pressure a couple notches, a fact not lost on their coach.
“Dylan Bunders and Noah Kollock are as good as we’re going to see at this level,” Columbus coach Joe Konieczny said. “I thought we did a really good job of guarding them. Not a lot of people in the state can guard Noah Kollock. Ryan Dieringer and Peyton Nystrom drew that assignment and did a tremendous job. He’s that good. You’re not going to hold him below 10, but I thought we did as well as we could.”
Unfortunately for Almond-Bancroft (23-3), Kollock rarely touched the ball in the first half, shooting just 1 of 2 from the field and scoring only two points.
Instead, the Eagles tried to get the ball to their 6-foot-7 post man Dylan Bunders. He scored eight points after being harassed by many Dons, post players and guards alike.
The Dons’ Nick Malovrh provided most of the offense as he had his second-straight hot shooting night, making 6 of 7 shots in the first half, including two 3-pointers, and had 14 points as Columbus built a 36-23 lead by the break. He shot 8 of 11 for the game and finished 19 points.
While Bunders had just five second-half points, Kollock proved what may have had Konoieczny sitting on the edge of his seat. The slippery 6-foot-1 sophomore made 7 of 11 shots, many off an incredibly quick first step. Kollock put up 18 points in the second half and ended with 20 for the game.
Dons senior Tyler Fuerlinger responded. Fuerlinger scored 19 of his game-high 27 points in the second half and calmed a few nerves by canning 10 of 11 free throws in the second half alone. He finished 14 of 16 overall at the free throw line.
Konieczny said he was proud of his team.
“I give our kids a lot of credit,” he said. “They kept attacking. Last year we had a lead like this, and we got a little tight. This year A-B made a run but kept attacking, got to the line, and shot it real well. We also rebounded quite well, but we won it with our defense.”
Dons 75, Eagles 62
Almond-Bancroft 23 39 – 62
Columbus Catholic 36 39 – 75
ALMOND-BANCROFT (62): Wyatt Richtmyre 7, Dylan Bunders 13, Cade Lamb 10, Jon Perrin 4, Noah Kollock 20, Carter Newby 7. FG: 23-48. FT: 10-16. 3-pointers: 6-18 (Lamb 3, Newby, D. Bunders Kollock). Fouls: 20. Fouled out: D. Bunders. Record: 23-3.
COLUMBUS CATHOLIC (75): Jarred Mandel 7, Nick Malovrh 19, Hunter Schultz 17, Tyler Fuerlinger 27, Noah Hansen 5. FG: 24-51. FT: 21-29. 3-pointers: 5-17 (Malovrh 2, Mandel, Schultz, T. Fuerlinger). Fouls: 19. Fouled out: none. Record: 24-2.