Within reach: One more Cloverbelt win means a conference title for the Dons
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield Columbus Catholic boys basketball team is ranked No. 4 in this week’s Wissports.net Division 5 state coaches poll and is on the cusp of its fourth Cloverbelt Conference East Division championship in the past seven years.
The Dons, after beating Granton on Thursday, are 16-1 overall and a perfect 13-0 in the Cloverbelt East with three conference games remaining. A victory in just one of them would assure Columbus of an outright conference title.
After sharing the title with Owen-Withee two seasons ago, the Dons came up one game short of Spencer for the championship last year. That near miss turned to motivation for a team that returned a large portion of its roster.
“Our kids have kind of had a chip on their shoulders because they finished a game out last year,” Columbus Catholic coach Joe Konieczny said. “They lost three conference games by a total of 11 points, and I think it caused them to work hard this season and take it one game at a time. If we continue to take it one day at a time, a conference championship is within their reach.”
The Dons reached the century mark in points for the second time this season in Tuesday’s win over Colby and have been held under 70 points just twice, including in their only loss, an 83-69 setback to Spring Grove (Minn.) in the Minnesota vs. Wisconsin Border Battle at Onalaska on Jan. 30.
Senior Evan Nikolai, juniors Hunter Schultz and Tyler Fuerlinger, and sophomore Nick Malovrh are all averaging double figures in scoring. Columbus is a deadly shooting team from the outside but also uses its quickness to force the tempo and get a number of easy baskets in transition.
The fact that the Dons have been so consistent, especially offensively, has put them in position to claim another conference crown.
“I don’t think we’ve adjusted our level play based on the opponent, which is good to see,” Konieczny said. “We’ve tried to maintain a level of intensity and focus regardless of who we play. That needs to continue if we want to continue to win games.”
Columbus will play a big nonconference game Saturday at home against Marawood South champion Marathon before finishing its conference slate with three games over a seven-day stretch against Greenwood, Owen-Withee, and Spencer.