Dons notch first-round win
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – The Columbus Dons boys basketball team was riding high going into its March 6 playoff rematch with Wild Rose, after defeating another familiar postseason foe in the first round. The Dons beat Rosholt 68-55 in a Division 5 regional quarterfinal contest March 3 at Columbus Catholic High School in Marshfield.
“I thought we played a very athletic opponent,” Head Coach Joe Konieczny said, following his 43rd playoff win as Columbus Head Coach. “It was a test for us. I thought the first half we were sloppy. In the second half we shot the ball really well. We hit seven ‘threes’ in that half. I thought Cole Noreen was really impressive in the first half for us (four ‘threes’), and then Tom (Nystrom) and Jadon (Nienast) in the second half, from a scoring standpoint, were huge for us. A lot of guys did some things tonight that contributed, and I’m very happy for our players.”
Despite Noreen’s hot shooting streak that led to 15 first-half points, the Dons and Hornets were tied at 28 at halftime.
“We went on a little run there mid-second half to get up by 13, and then late I thought Jadon Nienast was really impressive, just taking care of the ball, getting to the basket, and finding some guys for layups,” Konieczny added. “We did a pretty good job with some young guys in the game, and I’m just proud of them, because a lot of these guys didn’t play a lot in the playoffs last year, and this was their first experience in that environment. They all handled it pretty well and got a taste of it. Other than Noreen, I thought we looked pretty tight to start the game.
“I thought second half, we settled down, made some shots, which obviously makes you feel a little more comfortable, and got some baskets in transition once they pressed. When they did have to press to try to get the ball back, we got three or four layups off it and handled it well.”
After knocking down three much-needed three-point baskets in the first half, senior Tom Nystrom came out of the locker room on fire, connecting on four more from beyond the arch, and leading all scorers with 23 points. Noreen finished with 18 points, and Nienast added 12.
The win by Columbus was the second over Rosholt in postseason play in three years. The Dons also knocked the Hornets out of the playoffs during their state tournament run in 2017, when Columbus lost in the state semifinal round to eventual Division 5 champion Barneveld. The win over Rosholt was the 16th in the playoffs since that run.
The Dons were facing another familiar playoff opponent going in to their regional semifinal game with Wild Rose on March 6. Columbus beat Wild Rose 74-54 in a Division 5 regional final two seasons ago. The Wildcats were coming off a 69-28 win over Tigerton in a regional quarterfinal contest on March 3 in Wild Rose, after completing a 16-6 regular season, which featured at eight-game winning streak going into the playoffs.