LAKE MILLS — Lake Mills’ Ben Dunkleberger saved his best for last on Tuesday night. Literally.
One of three seniors honored before tip-off, Dunkleberger scored the L-Cats’ final 12 points to rally Lake Mills to a 62-57, Capitol North Conference win over Columbus.
With the Cardinals leading 53-50 with 4:04 to play, Dunkleberger responded with back-to-back 3-pointers to put the L-Cats up for good, 56-53, with 3:30 to play. He then went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final 53 seconds to seal the victory.
Dunkleberger, a 6-1 guard, would finish with a game-high 19 points and words of praise from Columbus coach Ben Schambow.
“They have a lot of scoring threats,” Schambow said of Lake Mills (14-6, 6-3). “They have a lot of players who can hurt you. Dunkleberger’s a senior, he stepped up and did some senior things tonight.”
Dunkleberger’s late-game heroics overshadowed the efforts of Columbus sophomore Ben Emler. Emler finished the night with a team-high 17 points. He also had an opportunity to send the game into overtime. With Columbus trailing 60-57 with 3 seconds to play, Emler’s 3-point attempt from the free-throw line extended hit off of the front of the rim. Dunkleberger snared the rebound.
Emler scored 13 in the first half as each team erased five-point deficits. Emler scored seven straight at the end of the half to give Columbus a 33-30 lead at the break. He was one of three Cardinals (9-10, 2-6) to reach double figures on the night. Senior Bryce Miller hit four 3-pointers — three in the first half — en route to 14 points and junior Trent Casper finished with 11 points.
“We did a lot of good things on offense. At times we moved the ball really well and we spread them out,” Schambow said. “For the most part, we were patient. But it was the times that we tried to go one-on-one and force things when they weren’t there that ultimately, in a game like this, are the things that decide the game.”
Besides Dunkleberger, four other L-Cats scored in double figures. Freshman Charlie Bender finished with 12, and sophomore Mike Herrington and junior JT Toepfer each scored 11.
Columbus plays host to Lakeside Lutheran on Friday.
LAKE MILLS 62, COLUMBUS 57
Columbus 33 24 — 57
Lake Mills 30 32 — 62
COLUMBUS (57) — Trey Hensler 2, Adam Zahn 2, Bryce Miller 14, Trent Casper 11, Caden Bieker 6, Andy Vujnovich 6, Ben Emler 17. TOTALS (FGM FTM-FTA PTS): 22 5-5 57.
LAKE MILLS (62) — Ben Dunkleberger 19, Mike Herrington 11, JP Toepfer 11, Hayden Iverson 9, Charlie Bender 12. TOTALS (FGM FTM-FTA PTS): 23 9-10 62
3-pointers: Columbus 8 (Miller 4, Casper 1, Bieker 2, Emler 1); Lake Mills 7 (Dunkleberger 3, Herrington 1, Toepfer 1, Bender 2). Total fouls: C 13, LM 8. Total fouls: None.