Dons cruise past Blackhawks

Dons cruise past Blackhawks


Dons cruise past Blackhawks


The Columbus Catholic boys set themselves up nicely for their two big games against the Cloverbelt Conference front runners, Neillsville and Spencer.

A 22-point effort by junior Evan Nikolai led the Dons during their 62-43 win over Owen-Withee on Friday night.

Columbus kept pace with Neillsville. Both teams have one loss in the league and square off on Monday night, while Spencer is the only undefeated team left in the league. The Rockets visit Columbus on Thursday.

Owen-Withee’s Kolton Kaduce, right, fouls Columbus Catholic’s Hunter Schultz, center, as Owen-Withee’s John Schmelzer, left, guards during the Cloverbelt Conference basketball game at Columbus Catholic High School in Marshfield, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015.

“Tonight started what could be a big week for us,” Nikolai said. “Neillsville beat us last time, and we get them right away this week at home, and we will play Spencer for the first time.”

The Dons played with a championship intensity, running up a 5-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game. Columbus led 9-2 at one point in the first quarter before the Blackhawks were able to trim the lead to three points after the first eight minutes.

In the second, Columbus went on another run, this time for seven points. It was capped by four straight from junior post Brett Loveland. The big man in the middle dropped in two putbacks to put the Dons up 19-12 with 7:09 left in the half.

“Brett and Billy both did a nice job in there,” Dons coach Joe Konieczy said. “They really helped us out on the boards, and when they had shots, they were able to finish.”

The 18 Columbus dropped in during the quarter gave them a 33-19 lead at the break.

“We played really unselfish tonight,” Konieczny said. “Almost every shot from the outside was from an assist tor a kick-out. When we take shots in a rhythm, we usually shoot a high percentage from the floor.”

The Dons went 6-for-10 from 3-point range with Nikolai and Tyler Furelinger knocking down two apiece.

“We came together tonight,” Nikolai said. “We took the time to make an extra pass to get everyone open and get the best shots that we could.”

While things were clicking for the Dons, the Blackhawks had difficulty getting much going offensively. Part of that was due to the Dons’ pressure defense, which forced 19 turnovers.

“This was our eighth game, (and) it was our most intense,” O-W coach Russ Weiler said. “We were skating by so far this year, and we needed a game like this.

“We didn’t shoot well, and we didn’t get back on defense or contest their dribble-drive. We will learn from this.”

Austin Milliren, who averages 12.5 points per game to lead the Blackhawks, was close to his average with 11 points, but was just 4-14 from the floor. He was the only O-W player to score in double figures.







Columbus Cath.






OWEN-WITHEE (43): Kolton Kaduce 6, Austin Milliren 11, Bryce Niemi 4, Hayden Houts 7, Preston Shelton 5, Adam Shakal 2, Will Makie 5, A.J. Ovyn. Totals 16-41 4-8 43.

COLUMBUS CATHOLIC (62): Billy Young 7, Evan Nikolai 22, Hunter Schultz 10, Ben Behling 4, Tyler Fuerlinger 8, Brett Loveland 11. Totals: 27-48 2-5 62.

3-pointers: O-W 4 (Kaduce 2, Milliren, Houts); CC 6 (Nikolai 2, Schultz, Fuerlinger 2, Loveland).

Records: Columbus Catholic 7-4, 6-1 Cloverbelt; Owen-Withee 5-3, 3-2 Cloverbelt.

Mark Massoglia can be reached a t715-423-7200, ext. 6736. Follow him on Twitter @markmazzy.


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