Dons hold off Hawks
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – Before the Columbus Dons boys basketball team lost to Gilman on Feb. 13, the Dons got a much-needed win over Owen-Withee on Feb. 11, beating the Blackhawks 75-54 at Columbus Catholic High School in Marshfield.
“I was happy with how we played the last ten minutes,” Coach Joe Konieczny said after the win. “I thought we started to attack the rim. I think we took 20 free throws down the stretch and stopped settling for ‘threes’, so that was a key factor I think, as we stopped taking outside shots early in possessions and got to the rim.”
It was a game of runs early. Owen-Withee jumped out to an 8-0 lead, then Columbus scored six straight before the Blackhawks pulled away again. The Dons then countered with a 9-0 run to grab the lead. Another 6-0 run by the Blackhawks put them in front until Columbus grabbed the lead again with a 14-6 spurt to give Columbus a 41-36 halftime lead.
“We were up two with about ten minutes left, and went to a half-court trap,” Konieczny said of his halftime adjustments going into the second half. “We got some easy baskets in transition, and just told our guys to get in the paint and try to score at the rim. We had missed seven or eight ‘threes’, and we got to the rim and the free throw line, and I think the free throws and being willing to attack the paint and be patient before we settled definitely saved us those last ten minutes.”
Jadon Nienast tied a season high with 28 points, including 9-for-10 from the free throw line – 8-for-9 in the second half. Tom Nystrom scored 14 points, including nine off three 3-point field goals in the first half. Eden Jacobson added ten points for the Dons, who improved their record to 8-9 with the win.
Columbus was 7-5 in the Eastern Cloverbelt Conference until losing to the Gilman Pirates 68-64 on Feb. 13 at Gilman. After that loss, the Dons stood at 7-6 in conference play.
“It’s been a different season for us, but we’re young,” Konieczny added. “We have some kids that have really learned some things—and you can learn the easy way and you can learn the hard way, and this season we have learned the hard way a few times, and I’m hoping that it benefits us down the stretch.”
The Dons play at Loyal on Feb. 21, before hosting conference-leading Neillsville on Feb. 24 at Columbus Catholic High School, to round out the regular season.