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PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Millard, defense rise to occasion in Wisconsin Dells' opening win over Holmen

PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Millard, defense rise to occasion in Wisconsin Dells' opening win over Holmen


The usually high-scoring Wisconsin Dells boys basketball team found itself sputtering most of Friday afternoon’s season-opener against Holmen.

When the Chiefs needed to get in gear, senior Sam Millard rose to the occasion as he helped lift them to a 49-46 win over the Vikings in the opening game of the JustAgame Holiday Classic in Wisconsin Dells. Millard scored 13 of his game-high 17 points in the second half as the Chiefs overcame a 10-point second half deficit.

“It was a pretty big win for us. We didn’t know much about them going into it, but knowing they’re a big school in a big conference, they were going to be really physical,” Millard said. “To start off the game, we started a little slow, but I’m proud of my guys for being tough, battling and coming out victorious.”

The Chiefs, who will play Hortonville in the tournament championship game following the Polar Bears’ 69-57 win over Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln, slowly began to heat up as the second half wore on. Holmen led by as many as 10 and ultimately took a 37-28 lead with 10 minutes, 25 seconds left to play before Wisconsin Dells began to reel the Vikings back in.

Sophomore Jacob Rockwell connected on a pair of free throws before Millard finished off a three-point play before canning a 3-pointer from the wing to make it 37-36 with 9 minutes remaining. The Chiefs later took the lead at 40-39 on a runner from senior Dylan Nevar but the advantage was brief as Holmen stretched its lead back to 43-40 with 5:30 to go after a pair of free throws and a layup from senior Ben Olson.

After Millard and Holmen senior Landon Pederson traded buckets, the Vikings took a 45-42 lead with 4:35 left, but the Chiefs put them on ice from there. A layup by Wisconsin Dells senior Bryson Funmaker off a deflection from Rockwell cut the lead to 45-44 before Millard gave the Chiefs the lead for good with another triple off a Holmen turnover for a 47-45 advantage with 2:35 to go.

“That was really big because we had played behind the whole time,” Wisconsin Dells coach Brad Rohling said. “You have to expend so much energy defensively when you’re down to try to get it close and bring it back, so I think when you can make a shot and it puts you ahead, you can feel the confidence rise in everybody.”

“They really tested us with that lead,” Millard added. “We didn’t know what to do at first, but we kept battling to our strengths and stumped them.”

Millard, who had 13 of his points in the second half, added a tip-in to make it 49-45 before when Olson, who had a team-high 15 points, split a pair of free throws with 1:38 to play to make it a one possession game. The Chiefs never surrendered the lead though as it thwarted the Vikings’ late push, including forcing a jump ball and a then a steal off an in-bounds pass by Millard to seal the victory.

Rohling admitted the Chiefs thought about fouling with the three-point lead, but opted not to due to the team’s struggles on the defensive glass.

“We were just worried we couldn’t get a rebound on a free throw,” he said. “They hadn’t hit many shots against us all game, and we played really good defense down the stretch and that kept us in the game.”

The Chiefs’ defense helped keep the Vikings from pulling away while the Wisconsin Dells offense struggled. The teams tied at 11 just past the midway point of the first half before Holmen went on a 10-0 run for a 21-11 lead with just over 3 minutes remaining until the break.

Wisconsin Dells battled back though, closing the half on a 10-2 run, including five points from senior Bryson Funmaker, who scored 15, to pull within 23-21 at halftime. Sophomore Jacob Rockwell added three of his seven points during the spurt and provided a needed spark off the bench for the Chiefs, who dealt with foul trouble all day.

“I think our offense was pretty stagnant most of the game, and a lot of credit goes to Holmen; I thought they played great defense,” Rohling said. “The game was won just because of grit and toughness on defense.”

Polar Bears put Chiefs on ice

The Chiefs’ offense slumped again in Saturday’s championship game as they suffered a 70-45 loss to Hortonville.

The Polar Bears came out of the gates strong, taking a 33-18 halftime lead and never looked back. Senior Dylan Nevar led the way for the Chiefs with 11 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, while Millard chipped in 10 and seniors Brett Hirst and Riley Eck each scored seven.

Wisconsin Dells flies past Columbus

After a pair of underwhelming performances, the Chiefs’ (2-1) offense got back up to speed on Tuesday, pulling away for a 74-55 non-conference win over Columbus.

The Cardinals hung tight during the first half with the two teams playing to a 26-26 tie at the break. The second half was dominated by Wisconsin Dells however as it outscored Columbus 48-29 over the final 18 minutes.

Millard poured in a game-high 31 points, including five 3-pointers, while Hirst added 17. Wisconsin Dells returns to action Thursday with its home opener against Black River Falls.

Holmen 23 23 — 46

Wisconsin Dells 21 28 — 48

HOLMEN (fg ftm-fta pts) — Olson 4 7-14 15, Weber 3 2-4 8, Matl 3 0-0 6, Hammond 1 3-5 5, Pederson 2 0-1 4, Troyaner 1 0-0 3, Hemker 1 1-1 3, Wall 1 0-1 2. Totals 16 13-26 46.

WISCONSIN DELLS — Millard 6 3-5 17, Funmaker 5 3-3 15, Rockwell 2 3-4 7, Eck 1 4-5 6, Hirst 1 0-0 2, Nevar 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 13-17 49.

3-point goals: Hol 1 (Troyaner 1), WD 4 (Millard 2, Funmaker 2). Total fouls: Hol 19, WD 20. Fouled out: WD (Hirst).


Hortonville 33 37 — 70

Wisconsin Dells 18 27 — 45

HORTONVILLE (fg ftm-fta pts) — Thiel 12 2-2 26, Warning 5 0-0 15, Lawrence 4 0-0 9, Payne 3 0-0 7, Schmidt 1 2-2 4, Luther 1 0-0 3, Grassman 1 0-0 2, Tordeski 1 0-0 2, Buchman 1 0-0 2. Totals 29 4-4 70.

WISCONSIN DELLS — Nevar 4 1-2 11, Millard 5 0-0 10, Hirst 2 3-7 7, Eck 2 2-2 7, Steinhaus 2 0-0 4, Greendeer 1 1-2 3, Funmaker 0 2-2 2, Rockwell 0 1-2 1. Totals 16 10-17 45.

3-point goals: Hor 8 (Warning 5, Lawrence 1, Payne 1, Luther 1), WD 3 (Nevar 2, Eck 1). Total fouls: Hor 20, WD 12. Fouled out: Hor (Warning).


Wisconsin Dells 26 48 — 74

Columbus 26 29 — 55

WISCONSIN DELLS (fg ft-fta pts) — Millard 11 4-5 31, Hirst 7 3-5 17, Eck 3 0-0 7, Funmaker 2 1-2 6, Rockwell 2 0-3 5, Weiss 1 0-0 2, Steinhaus 1 0-0 2. Totals 28 8-17 74.

COLUMBUS — Emler 7 10-10 25, Brunell 3 2-2 10, Campbell 2 1-2 6, Cotter 1 3-3 5, Carthew 2 1-2 5, Schroeder 1 2-2 4. Totals 16 19-22 55

3-point goals: WD 8 (Millard 5, Rockwell 1, Eck 1, Funmaker 1), C 4 ( Brunell 2, Emler 1, Campbell 1). Total fouls: WD 17, C 17. Fouled out: Col (Schroeder, Campbell).

Follow Sean Davis on Twitter @SDavis_PDR or contact him at 608-745-3512.

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