Dons off to hot start
By Mike Warren
MARSHFIELD – Heading into a mid-week tournament sandwiched between the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays at Concordia University in Mequon, the Marshfield Columbus boys basketball team had a 6-0 record and was ranked No. 2 in the state in Division 5. The Dons were coming off an exciting 64-62 come-from-behind win at Owen-Withee on Dec. 17.
“We are playing some young kids,” Columbus Head Coach Joe Konieczny said after the Dons beat the Blackhawks. “We’ve got four sophomores in our top seven or eight. I think they’re growing, maybe not as quickly as the coach wants them to. I think it’s a team that will improve during the season and it’s fun to coach them, because they play extremely hard and they really care about winning.”
It was one of Coach Konieczny’s five seniors, however, who made the big shot to beat the Blackhawks. With 10 seconds left in regulation and down by one, the Dons brought the ball full length of the court, then got it to Sam Wilczek, who knocked down a three-pointer with 3.7 seconds left on the clock to give Columbus a two-point lead. Logan Amacher’s desperation half-court shot at the buzzer for Owen-Withee sailed high, and the Dons secured the win.
“We’ve always been lucky that one or two catch fire, like Charlie (Moore) tonight in the first half. We get down seven or eight not shooting the ball well, and he hits three straight threes and we’re up two at half. Probably didn’t deserve to be. And then at the end there, Wilczek hit one that was big. So the little things have kind of saved us, and they’re doing enough, just enough. And I think a lot of the shooting stuff is mental. I think between their ears and from the neck up, we’re really struggling right now shooting the ball, and probably thinking way too much. You can’t think. We’re a team, in our system, where it’s play fast and react and make plays. And, when we start to think, things go poorly,” the coach added.
Sam Wilczek had a game-high 16 points to lead Columbus past Owen-Withee. Charlie Moore added 12, on four three-point baskets. Cole Noreen and Emmitt Konieczny each had nine. Blake Jakobi and Grant Olson each added seven. As a team, the Dons connected on 74 percent of their free throws, going 14-for-19 from the line. Junior Carter Klabon led Owen-Withee with 15 points. Senior Tyler Weaver added 14, and Amacher had 13. Caleb Geldernick pitched in 10 points in the losing effort. The win by the Dons was their 16th straight versus Owen-Withee, dating back to 2014.
Following the winter break from school, Columbus gets back into its Cloverbelt Conference schedule, with a game at Greenwood on Jan. 4, followed by a home game with Loyal Jan. 7, at Columbus Catholic High School.