COLUMBUS — Nothing seemed to go the Columbus boys basketball team’s way Tuesday night, but Monona Grove had no such trouble in their non-conference game.
The Silver Eagles used a full-court press in the first half that flustered the host Cardinals, resulting in an 86-55 MG victory.
“We’ve got new guards in positions that have been filled with Noah Coughlin for the last three years,” Columbus head coach Ben Schambow said. “We’re trying to figure out how to be confident to handle pressure. If we’re going to beat pressure, how are other guys without the ball going to move so that we can get the ball out of our hands so that we’re not trying to create on our own?
“Tonight, (Monona Grove) completely exposed us. They flustered us. They pressured us. They sped us up. When we’re sped up at this point in the season, we’re not good enough to do a lot.”
Monona Grove used a number of Columbus turnovers to get out to a 14-2 run in the first 2 minutes, 43 seconds of the game.
From there, the Cardinals didn’t stand a chance as the Silver Eagles built a 60-22 by halftime.
Columbus seemed hesitant at times to drive the lane, and the pressure from the Silver Eagles put the Cardinals in bad positions, resulting in bad shots.
“I think we got to the point where we were just trying to create on our own,” Schambow said. “We knew we were turning the ball over way too much and certain guys just tried to create do things on their own. When you’re doing things like that, the ball doesn’t move. The defense doesn’t have to work very hard and we put up bad shots.”
Columbus performed better in the second half, but the Cardinals were barely able to put a dent in MG’s big lead.
“When you move the ball and you touch the post, obviously you get better looks like we did in the second half,” Schambow said. “Their pressure took us out of the game completely.”
The Silver Eagles had a size advantage, as 6-foot-7 Jake Schroeckethaler led all scorers with 18 points. Columbus’ tallest player, 6-5 Ben Emler, finished with a team-high 14.
“Size isn’t something we can change,” Schambow said. “We are who we are. We just need to play scrappier. We need to get tougher, physically and mentally. … Tougher is the only way to go.”
But Schambow still liked what he saw from Emler.
“Benny is the guy other teams are going to focus on for us,” Schambow said. “He’s a very good offensive player. He shoots the ball extremely well, he’s got great footwork and our offense runs through Ben. He’s going to have to play a lot older than a sophomore this year for us.
“He’s a skilled played and he puts in more time than anybody I’ve ever coached before.”
Even with a forgettable loss, Schambow still saw some positives from his Cardinals.
“I told the guys afterwards that when you play very good basketball teams like we played, they’re going to expose our weaknesses,” Schambow said. “The positives are in the second half, we moved the ball better. We got the ball inside. We got to the free throw line a lot more and they showed us exactly what we need to work on, which at this point is a lot.”
MONONA GROVE 86, COLUMBUS 55
Mononan Grove 60 26 — 86
Columbus 22 33 — 55
Monona Grove (86) — Caden Nelson 12, Alec Ogden 6, Sam Hepp 15, Henry Huston 3, Jaden Robinson 2, Isaac Stinson 2, Max Nelson 13, Sam Gronski 1, Jimmy Thome 8, Jordan Bishop 2, Jake Schroeckenthaler 18, Carson Antonson 2, Austin Emler 2. TOTALS (FGs FTM-FTA PTs): 36 9-12 86.
Columbus (55) — Trey Hensler 3, Sam Kahl 7, Adam Zahn 4, Bryce Miller 5, Joey Kalfut 2, Trent Casper 12, Caden Bieker 6, Zach Little 2, Ben Emler 14. TOTALS (FGs FTM-FTA PTs): 16 18-27 55.
3-pointers: Monona Grove 5 (Sam Hepp 1, Henry Huston 1, Max Nelson 3). Columbus 3 (Trey Hensler 1, Trent Casper 1, Ben Emler 1). Total fouls: Monona Grove 23, Columbus 10. Fouled out: Monona Grove — none. Columbus — none.