Konieczny faces off against DeSmet
Dons best Greyhounds
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – When Joe Konieczny took over the Columbus Dons boys basketball team in 2005, Brandon DeSmet entered the program as a freshman; and 15 years later, they’re coaching against one another in the Eastern Cloverbelt Conference. When the Dons beat DeSmet’s Loyal Greyhounds 55-49 on Dec. 15 at Columbus High School in Marshfield, it was a bittersweet win for Konieczny.
“Yeah. But honestly, if we would’ve lost; I’m not upset, I’m happy for him. And I think he feels the same way,” Konieczny said after the win. “Hopefully we can continue to stay one step ahead, but it’s going to be tough because that guy’s a great coach. You knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game tonight. I just have so much faith in him and what he does. You knew we were going to be lucky to get a win just because of the type of person he is.”
The leadership qualities DeSmet now shows as a head coach Konieczny saw in him as a player.
“He was a leader. When he was a junior, we went over to Pittsville for a regional final against Assumption, and we won in double overtime. Trevor (Gorman) had fouled out. Matt Iwanski was out there with Brandon and three other underclassmen. And I’ll just never forget the way those guys stepped up, and how he’s (Brandon’s) directing guys,” Konieczny recalled.
“Then with him as senior, we had lost a lot of guys and we still won 15 games. We went over to SPASH and lost a regional final, a heartbreaker. (Rosholt) threw in five or six three’s in the first half. It was a game where we were the No. 1 seed and they were the two-seed, and Rosholt knocked us off. We missed two or three shots that could’ve won it. I have a picture of Brandon coming off the floor for the last time and I remember just how devastated he was.
“He loved high school basketball and he loved being around kids and the game. Those kids from Loyal are going to run through a wall for that guy because of his passion and the way he cares about people. He’s going to be a huge success, and I’m really proud of him.”
As for Konieczny’s first head-to-head matchup with his former player’s new team, Eden Jacobson led Columbus with 14. Sam Wilczek added 12. Jadon Nienast had 10. DeSmet’s Loyal squad was led by Daymian Baird with 18. Drew Stieglitz added 15, and Kaiden Hagen scored 10.
But the clashes with former players are far from over. Konieczny will see Loyal at least one more time later this season and perhaps in the regionals as well. And he will also meet up with Brandon’s brother when Columbus plays Neillsville, where Bryce DeSmet is a JV coach and varsity assistant. Alex Baierl, another former Columbus standout, is currently a JV coach and varsity assistant at Chippewa Falls McDonell, and the Dons are scheduled to face the Macks in nonconference basketball later this season as well.