Dons claim fourth straight Cranberry Classic title
BY MIKE WARREN
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – The Columbus Dons boys’ basketball team won the 39th annual Cranberry Classic high school basketball tournament, played Nov. 24-25 at Assumption High School in Wisconsin Rapids.
The Dons beat Nekoosa 87-50 in the first round Nov. 24.
“I thought for the first time being out there we did some things well,” Head Coach Joe Konieczny said following the season-opening win over the Papermakers. “We can learn from some other things. Overall, it was a good experience for us,” he added. “I think we’re deep. We have some really good, talented players. Our senior class is very deep. I think there’s a lot of ways we can play defensively, offensively, and overall I just think if we’re unselfish and we share the ball, then good things are going to happen for us. [Against Nekoosa] we were willing to pass up good shots for great ones, did enough defensively to limit what they could do and it was a good first game.”
Blake Jakobi led Columbus with 16 points. Emmitt Konieczny added 15. A dozen Dons played in the game and eleven scored.
In the championship game the following night, Columbus upended Port Edwards, 58-34. The Dons were led by Cy Becker’s 14 points. Jakobi added 10.
The win gave the Dons their fourth consecutive Cranberry Classic championship and their ninth overall.
“We like this event,” Coach Konieczny told us. “It’s a chance to get two pretty good non-conference games to start the season before we go into conference play, so it’s been a great thing for us. Definitely enjoy it and are appreciative of the opportunity.”
The win over the Blackhawks in the championship game was also the 350th career win for Konieczny as Columbus head coach.
Coach K., now in his 19th season at Columbus Catholic, has a luxury this season not many coaches ever get – a roster featuring nine seniors.
“I think if we stay healthy and we do what we’re capable of from a day-to-day standpoint, I think the sky is the limit,” Konieczny said prior to the tournament. “I thought that last year too though. We came in ranked pretty high and had four or five guys miss significant time with ankles and knees and all kinds of things, and Charlie (Moore) with the broken foot. I think that’s got me a little bit gun shy to get too far ahead,” Konieczny added. “Just really trying to enjoy every day we have all these players available and healthy. They’re quality human beings, too. I’m really just trying to enjoy every day that I get to be their coach and we’ll see how it transpires from there.”
The Dons feature four-year varsity players Emmitt Konieczny and Blake Jakobi, along with fellow seniors Lucas Kreklau, Charlie Moore and Cy Becker in the starting lineup. Other seniors include Nate Nemitz, Alex Edwards, Kohle Hilgemann and Cal Birkhauser. The lone junior on this year’s squad is Sam Dums. Sophomores Mac Konieczny and Kaleb Hilgemann will also see playing time.