A high scoring team can benefit immensely from a suffocating defense, and the Wisconsin Dells boys basketball team is aiming to live off its defense this year.

The Chiefs got off to a good start Tuesday night, using its defense to roll to an 85-66 non-conference win over Black River Falls on Tuesday night at Wisconsin Dells High School.

“It kind of creates that intensity we want, gets us going and helps set the tone for our fast break,” Wisconsin Dells coach Brad Rohling said. “We’re much better obviously on the break, turnovers and rebounds than we are made baskets, so the better defense we can play, the better our offense will be.”

The Chiefs (2-0) got off to a hot start, jumping out to an 8-0 lead with 15 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the first half. Sophomore Brett Hirst opened things with a lay-up off a steal and quickly added a 3-pointer before senior Tanner Brandt buried a 3-pointer following another steal.

Sophomore Elliot Bird ended the Tigers’ scoreless drought with a lay-up at 14:28 to make it 8-2 but the Chiefs started to roll after that. Wisconsin Dells ripped off a 16-5 run, including 3-pointers by Brandt and sophomore Riley Eck, to push the lead to 24-7.

“The way we came out was phenomenal,” Rohling said. “We were hitting shots, getting turnovers, frustrating them and doing everything we needed to do.”

Black River Falls (1-1) answered back with back-to-back baskets by Bird and senior Isaac Cowles to make it 24-11 but the Chiefs answered back, Wisconsin Dells countered with a 13-2 run, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers by seniors Alex Weiss and Jackson Sveum, to go up 37-13 with 6:30 left.

The teams proceeded to trade punches over the final minutes, with Wisconsin Dells taking a 48-27 lead into the break off a 3-pointer by junior Dylan Musiedlak. Out of the break, the Tigers came out strong, cutting the Chiefs lead to 13 at 53-40 following a 2-pointer by senior Bryce Seiber with 12:55 remaining.

Wisconsin Dells countered quickly with a 7-2 run, including 2-pointers by Sveum and senior John Pikula and a 3-pointer by Sveum, to push the lead back to 60-44 with 11 minutes left. That trend continued throughout the remainder of the game, as the Tigers trimmed the lead back down to 13 twice more down the stretch, only for the Chiefs to weather the storm on both occasions and walk away with the win.

“In the second half, we had a bit of a letdown which can happen sometimes when you have a lead at halftime, but I’m really proud of our effort and everything like that,” Rohling said.

“It’s just about digging deep,” Weiss added. “Coach Rohling said to just come out and play, otherwise they’re going to keep coming back. We just came out and played hard every single second.”

Weiss was an integral part of the Chiefs offense as Wisconsin Dells buried 13 3-pointers and had four scorers in double-figures. Brandt led the way with 23, Sveum added 18, including four 3-pointers, Weiss had 14 and Hirst contributed 11.

“It could be anybody any given night,” Rohling said. “We have a bunch of natural scorers out there and it’s a good problem to have.”

“We worked a lot in the offseason with shooting, just getting in the gym,” Weiss added. “We’re really good together and it’s not about who scores. If we swing the ball, we’re going to get shots.”

While the Chiefs earned a 19-point victory, Rohling and his team knows they can improve. For Rohling, a lack of discipline hurt the team offensively in the second half, and both Brandt and Sveum know they can clean things up.

“We’re hitting a lot of 3’s and that always helps, but we have to get the ball down low now,” Brandt said.

“We’ve been coming out strong in the first half with defense, but in the second half we’ve been slowing down and getting tired, so we need to work on that,” Sveum added.

Wisconsin Dells 86, Nekoosa 67

Following their win over the Tigers, the Chiefs continued their hot start with an 86-67 win over Nekoos in a South Central Conference opener on Friday in Nekoosa.

Wisconsin Dells dominated the first half, building a comfortable 45-22 lead at the break before coasting home in the second half. Again Brandt led the way, scoring a team-high 20 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.

Sveum and Weiss again scored in double figures, adding 15 and 14, and sophomore Bryson Funmaker chipped in 10, including two 3-pointers.


Black River Falls 27 39 — 66

Wisconsin Dells 48 37 — 85

BLACK RIVER FALLS — Becker 0 1-4 1, Woods 3 2-4 8, Seiber 2 2-3 6, Anderson 6 6-7 23, Bird 7 0-0 15, Cowles 3 1-3 8, Iverson 1 0-0 3, Nicholas 0 2-4 2. Totals 23 14-22 66.

WISCONSIN DELLS — Weiss 5 2-3 14, Brandt 10 0-1 23, Mackinnis 2 0-0 5, Pikula 1 1-2 3, Sveum 7 0-1 18, Hirst 5 0-0 11, Funmaker 1 0-0 2, Eck 1 2-2 5, Musiedlak 1 0-0 3, Gutzmer 0 1-2 1. Totals 33 6-11 85.

3-point goals — BRF 5 (Anderson 2, Bird 1, Cowles 1, Iverson 1), WD 13 (Weiss 2, Brandt 3, Mackinnis 1, Sveum 4, Hirst 1, Eck 1, Musiedlak 1). Total fouls — WD 20, BRF 13. Fouled out — WD (Funmaker).


Wisconsin Dells 45 41 — 86

Nekoosa 22 45 — 67

WISCONSIN DELLS — Weiss 7 0-0 14, Brandt 9 0-0 20, Pikula 4 1-2 9, Sveum 7 0-0 15, Hirst 4 1-2 9, Funmaker 3 2-5 10, Eck 1 0-1 2, Musiedlak 3 0-0 6, Gutzmer 0 1-1 1. Totals 38 5-13 86.

NEKOOSA — Alday 3 1-2 9, Gerzmehle 8 1-1 22, Kautzer 1 0-0 2, Kolo 4 0-0 12, Wolf 6 4-6 16, Bills 2 0-0 4, Wiesen 1 0-0 2. Totals 25 6-9 67.

3-point goals — WD 5 (Brandt 2, Sveum 1, Funmaker 2), NEK 11 (Alday 2, Gerzmehle 5, Kolo 4). Total fouls — WD 14, NEK 16.

Follow Sean Davis on Twitter @SDavis_PDR.