Dons will play Barneveld in D-5 state semifinal Friday
By Paul Lecker
SCHOFIELD — For the first time in 14 years, the Marshfield Columbus Catholic boys basketball team is going to the state tournament.
The Dons raced out to a big lead in the first half and held off a run from Gresham to win 68-62 in a WIAA Division 5 sectional final Saturday at D.C. Everest High School.
Columbus Catholic (25-2) will play Barneveld (24-3) in a Division 5 semifinal at approximately 10:45 a.m. on Friday at the WIAA State Boys Basketball Tournament at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Chippewa Falls McDonell (24-3) and Shullsburg (25-2) will play in the other D-5 semifinal at 9 a.m. Friday. The championship game is Saturday, March 18, at 11 a.m. McDonell beat Columbus 75-66 in the Cloverbelt Conference Crossovers first-place game on Feb. 25.
All of the tournament games will be televised on WAOW-TV 9, and the Columbus games will be broadcast on WDLB-AM 1450 and wdlbwosq.com.
Against Gresham, Hunter Schultz scored 25 points, and Tyler Fuerlinger had 20 points and nine rebounds for Columbus, which will be making its second appearance at the state tournament since joining the WIAA in 2001. The Dons’ other appearance came in 2003 when they lost in the Division 4 semifinals.
“The feeling is just unreal,” Schultz said. “We worked so many countless years and hours in the gym for this one moment. It’s just unreal, it really is.”
The game was fast-paced early with the lead changing hands six times over the first six minutes. A basket from Derek Bowman put Gresham (23-4) up 16-15 with 11:34 to go in the first half. That would be the Wildcats’ final lead.
Schultz responded with a 3-pointer to put Columbus back ahead. After neither team made a field goal for nearly four minutes, the Dons started to pour it on.
Schultz hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in a 15-0 run that turned a 21-18 lead into a 36-18 advantage with 2:53 to go in the half.
“The run we had in the first half was awesome,” Schultz said. “Our movement of the ball was great, and it got me some open looks. I started hitting them. Then some other guys started hitting them.”
Columbus pushed the lead to 45-22 by halftime after closing on a 9-0 run sparked by a 3-pointer and another hoop from Fuerlinger and a rebound and basket by Jarred Mandel.
Gresham reached the sectional final by overcoming a 13-point deficit in the final minute of the semifinal against Lena. The Wildcats forced overtime with a miraculous run and won it in the extra period.
That being said, the Dons knew Gresham would not give up.
The Wildcats started the second half on an 11-2 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Todd Otradovec, to cut Columbus’ lead to 14.
“We knew until the horn went off it wasn’t going to be easy,” Columbus Catholic coach Joe Konieczny said. “Luckily for us, the game was 36 minutes and not 40. We’re fortunate to get a win against a really good team.”
Another Otradovec 3-pointer made it a 10-point game with 11:28 to go before the Wildcats cooled off for a stretch.
Schultz scored to push Columbus’ lead back to 16 at 61-45 with 5:13 remaining, but the Dons had to hold off one last run from Gresham.
Columbus missed two of five free throws as Gresham got to within 66-60 after a basket by Neal Cerveny with 24 seconds left. After another miss at the line by the Dons, Gresham had a chance to cut it to three but missed on a 3-point attempt. Fuerlinger made two free throws with 8.1 seconds left to effectively end it for the Dons.
“I’m just so happy for our players,” said Konieczny, who is in his 12th year as head coach of the Dons and will be making his first trip to state. “Our seniors have wanted this for a long time. I’m fortunate to have a lot of really good players and kids that put a lot of time in the offseason. To see them get to play at the Kohl Center to end their careers, I couldn’t be more proud or happier for them.”
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
Dons 68, Wildcats 62
Columbus Catholic 45 23 – 68
Gresham 22 40 – 62
COLUMBUS CATHOLIC (68): Jarred Mandel 3-5 0-0 6, Charles Payant 0-1 0-0 0, Ryan Dieringer 1-4 0-0 2, Peyton Nystrom 0-0 0-0 0, Nick Malovrh 4-13 1-2 13, Hunter Schultz 9-20 3-6 25, Ethan Meece 1-1 0-0 2, Tyler Fuerlinger 7-10 5-6 20, Evan Hansen 0-1 0-0 0. FG: 25-55. FT: 9-14. 3-pointers: 9-26 (Malovrh 4-12, Schultz 4-10, Fuerlinger 1-1, Dieringer 0-2, Payant 0-1). Rebounds: 35 (Fuerlinger 9, Malovrh 8). Turnovers: 12. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: Fuerlinger. Record: 25-2.
GRESHAM (62): Drew Haffner 0-7 0-0 0, Legacy Skenandore 0-1 0-0 0, Ray Creapeau 1-6 4-4 7, Justy Paiser 0-1 0-0 0, Neal Cerveny 7-17 4-6 19, Derek Bowman 8-15 2-2 18, Todd Otradovec 7-12 0-2 18, Anthony Creapeau 0-0 0-0 0. FG: 23-59. FT: 10-14. 3-pointers: 6-22 (Otradovec 4-6, Cervey 1-5, R. Creapeau 1-5, Haffner 0-4, Skenandore 0-1, Paiser 0-1). Rebounds: 33 (Cervey 10, Bowman 10). Turnovers: 16. Fouls: 18. Fouled out: none. Record: 23-4.