The Wisconsin Dells boys basketball team picked up its 18th straight victory with a 66-39 win over Wautoma on Friday night, but this one meant a little bit more to the Chiefs, as it clinched them at least a share of the South Central Conference championship.
It’s the third straight conference championship for the Chiefs, who can clinch the outright title with a win over Mauston in the regular season finale on Thursday night at Wisconsin Dells High School. Thursday’s game will also be the final regular season game in the Wisconsin Dells gym, as the Chiefs are set to move into their new school in the fall.
Wisconsin Dells coach Brad Rohling said it was important to get the win over Wautoma, because it mean’s Thursday’s game for Mauston won’t be a winner-take-all contest.
“You get that share, and then you can kind of focus on Mauston, and not have to worry about winning that last game,” Rohling said. “Obviously, we want to win it outright. The kids really want to win it outright. Mauston is a really good team and you never know. Just to get that kind of out of the way a little bit against Wautoma, we were able to celebrate and cut the nets down and get a share, and get the t-shirts, so we can be totally locked in against Mauston.”
Leading Wisconsin Dells in the win was senior Brett Hirst, who scored 12 of his game-high 21 points in the first half, helping the Chiefs take a commanding 33-14 lead at the break.
Wisconsin Dells was especially impressive on defense, holding the Hornets to just 11 made field goals and just three made 3-pointers.
“I thought defensively we played really well. They didn’t have any good looks. They like to shoot a ton of 3s and we had a hand in their face all the time,” Rohling said. “It was a pretty physical game. I thought we handled that pretty well. And then we just got some steals, deflections and turnovers and got to the rim.”
Eleven different players scored for the Chiefs. Joining Hirst in double figures was senior Bryson Funmaker, who finished with 13 points.
Wisconsin Dells 58, Sauk Prairie 31
Wisconsin Dells extended its winning streak to 19 games with a non-conference victory over Sauk Prairie on Monday night at Wisconsin Dells High School.
Again, it was the defense that led the charge. The Chiefs forced turnovers on Sauk Prairie’s first two possessions of the game, a trend that continued for most of the night. Sauk Prairie finished with just 12 field goals and scored just 13 points in the second half, as the Chiefs pulled away.
“Our guys were flying around. Bryson (Funmaker), Brett (Hirst) and Riley (Eck) at the top of (the defense) were really doing a nice job. When they did get it inside, I thought Dylan (Never), and Sam (Nevar), and Jack (Steinhaus) did a nice job of covering up some things, so we really didn’t give up any good looks in the first half.
“They got a couple made 3s by two 6-7 guys (senior Trevor Spray and junior Brandt Wilson) with a hand in their face. They’re both really good players. But other than that, we didn’t give them anything easy.”
Hirst led the Chiefs with 15 points, including his team’s first two baskets of the game. Hirst’s 3-pointer from the right corner gave Wisconsin Dells an 11-5 lead with 12:20 left in the first half. He then made a layup to give the Chiefs their first double-digit lead of the night at 19-8 with 8:35 left in the opening half.
Senior Sam Millard, who finished with 10 points made two straight buckets for Wisconsin Dells, including a 3-pointer from atop the key that made it 24-10 with 5:45 left in the half. Then Funmaker, who also had 10 points for the Chiefs, knocked down a jumper to give Wisconsin Dells a 29-13 lead with 3:00 left in the half.
Wisconsin Dells opened the second half on a 10-2 run that buried the Eagles for good. The run began with two layups from Hirst, and continued with layups from Funmaker, senior Riley Eck and then Millard, giving the Chiefs a 39-20 lead with 12:52 left in the game.
Rohling was happy with how his team executed its half-court offense against the Eagles.
“I thought we moved the ball well and got into our half-court offense. We’re running it a lot better than we were at the beginning of the year,” Rohling said. “I think our kids understand the reads a little bit better and are just doing a better job of running the offense. You got to be able to do both when you get down to the end of the season against Mauston, a real good team, and you’re going to see real good teams in the tournament.
“It’s not always going to be steal-layup, steal-layup. You got to be able to get it inside and play inside out, which I think we’re getting better at.”
Chiefs get top seed
As expected, Wisconsin Dells was named the top overall seed in its sectional grouping, and was thus granted an opening-round bye to the playoffs. The Chiefs will open postseason play on Friday, March 6 with a Division 3 regional semifinal against either No. 8 seed Viroqua or No. 9 Westby.
A win in the regional semifinal will send Wisconsin Dells to the regional final, which the Chiefs would host on Saturday, March 7 against either No. 4 West Salem, No. 5 Black River Falls or No. 12 Arcadia.
Earning the other top seeds in the other half of the bracket are No. 2 Altoona and No. 3 Mauston. Either team could play Wisconsin Dells in a sectional semifinal game scheduled to be played in Baraboo on Thursday, March 12.
WISCONSIN DELLS 66, WAUTOMA 39
Wautoma 14 25 — 39
Wisconsin Dells 33 33 — 66
WAUTOMA (fg ft-fta pts) – Panich 3 2-2 9; Armstrong 1 0-0 3; Krueger 1 1-4 4; Weiss 2 1-1 5; Keller 1 0-0 2; Johnson 1 0-0 2; Ascher 1 8-11 10; Koats 0 2-2 2; Slowey 1 0-0 2. Totals 11 14-20 39.
WISCONSIN DELLS – Steinhaus 3 0-0 7; Koenig 1 0-0 3; Hirst 7 6-12 21; Knetter 1 1-2 3; Millard 1 1-1 3; Funmaker 6 0-0 13; Eck 1 0-0 2; Rockwell 2 0-0 4; Witt 1 0-0 2; Weiss 1 0-0 3; Nevar 1 2-2 5. Totals 25 10-18 66.
3-point goals: WA 3 (Panich 1, Armstrong 1, Krueger 1), WD 6 (Steinhaus 1, Koenig 1, Hirst 1, Funmaker 1, Weiss 1, Nevar 1). Total fouls: WA 17, WD 21. Fouled out: Johnson.
WISCONSIN DELLS 58, SAUK PRAIRIE 31
Sauk Prairie 18 13 — 31
Wisconsin Dells 29 29 — 58
SAUK PRAIRIE (fg ft-fta pts) — Been 2 2-3 7; Uselman 1 1-2 3; I. Breunig 2 0-0 4; Spray 4 0-0 10; Wilson 1 0-2 3; Ahmetaj 1 0-0 2; Drew 1 0-0 2. Totals 12 3-7 31.
WISCONSIN DELLS — Steinhaus 1 0-0 3; Koenig 1 0-0 3; Hirst 7 0-0 15; Millard 4 0-0 10; Funmaker 5 0-0 10; Eck 3 1-2 7; Hale 1 0-0 2; Witt 1 0-0 2; Weiss 2 0-0 4; Nevar 1 0-0 2. Totals 26 1-2 58.
3-point goals: SP 4 (Spray 2, Been 1, Wilson 1); WD 5 (Millard 2, Steinhaus 1, Koenig 1, Hirst 1). Total fouls: SP 8; WD 11.
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