Spencer completes season sweep of Columbus
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – For the first time in recent memory, the Columbus Dons boys basketball team has been swept in a season series. The Spencer Rockets pulled off the feat when they beat the Dons 71-66 on Jan. 30 at Columbus Catholic High School in Marshfield. The win came nearly two months after the Rockets beat Columbus 75-74 on Dec. 6 in Spencer.
“It feels good to come in here and get a win against Columbus,” Spencer Coach Clint Nieman said after the game. ”Coach K. (Joe Konieczny) has a great program. Their kids do it the right way, and just a phenomenal, fundamentally-sound team. They’re down a little bit from last year, but any time you can come into Columbus and get a win, that’s big, especially for us.”
Both teams started fast, but then Columbus went cold, and Spencer built a 38-25 halftime lead. The Dons had a great start to the second half and pulled close once again, after using a man-to-man defense to get back in the game.
“Against the ‘man’ we just got stagnant,” Nieman added. “I think the kids got a little uptight. I think they felt more comfortable running against the 2-3 zone with the different offenses that we have. Our man-to-man offense is coming along. We implemented a new wrinkle and they’re just not comfortable with it. They’re getting better. We implemented it over Christmas, so it’s getting better with every game, but it really slowed us down, and I think guys just got a little tight.”
Columbus tied the game at 57 late in the second half, but Spencer got big baskets down the stretch from Brett Kasch and Eric Ehlert, and six consecutive free throws from Kaleb Brandt, who scored a season-high 14 points. With just under two minutes left in the game, Columbus did pull to within two, but the Dons were forced to foul and Spencer put the game away with free throws.
Kasch led the Rockets with 20 points. Ehlert had a season-high 18 points, including ten in the second half.
On a night when the Dons were without Eden Jacobson and the Spencer defense was holding Tom Nystrom in check, Sam Wilczek led Columbus in scoring with a season-high 16 points. Jadon Nienast added 11 points, his per-game average this season.
Spencer used the big win to keep pace with Neillsville in the Eastern Cloverbelt Conference. With both teams winning on Jan. 30, the Rockets remained a game behind the Warriors. Spencer was 9-1 in conference play after the win over Columbus, improving their overall record to 10-4.
Columbus dropped to 6-8 overall and 5-5 in the conference. In case you’re wondering, Spencer hosts Neillsville Feb. 18.