By Paul Lecker For Zaleski Sports
MARSHFIELD – A magical 2018-19 season ended with a silver ball at the WIAA state tournament for the Marshfield Columbus Catholic boys basketball team.
Veteran coach Joe Konieczny led a team filled with five senior starters, seven seniors in all, and a junior reserve that hit one of the biggest shots in school history to that propeled the Dons to that runner-up trophy last March in Madison.
This year’s team will look a lot different as those seniors are gone and a new group will step in to try to fill the void.
Tom Nystrom and Zach Olson are the only seniors on the roster this year for the Dons, who finished 26-3 overall and a perfect 16-0 in the Cloverbelt Conference East Division last year.
Nystrom, who hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in the Division 5 state semifinals against Bangor to send Columbus into the championship game, played a significant role off the bench for the Dons throughout the year, and now will be looked upon as a team leader.
Nystrom had seven 3-pointers and 23 points in a 70-68 loss to Port Edwards in the Dons’ season opener last Friday.
He will be joined by juniors Wyatt Drexler, Jadon Nienast, Eden Jacobson, Will Schlafke, Carlos Hackel, Tyler Lindquist and Gage Stratman, and sophomores Cole Noreen, Sam Wilczek and Cole Timmler on the 2019-20 roster.
Drexler got off to a tremendous start for the Dons at the Cranberry Classic last weekend, hitting six 3-pointers in each game and scored a game-high 28 points in Columbus Catholics 58-41 win over Wisconsin Rapids Assumption on Saturday.
“The great part about last year is that we had seven seniors,” said Konieczny, who earned his 300th career varsity coaching win, and 276th at Columbus Catholic, on Saturday. “Some of them were outstanding basketball players and all of them were outstanding people. This year, there’s going to be some growing pains because we have a lot to replace. We still need experience at the varsity level. What I saw on Friday was a lot of positive, but some inexperience. In a key moment we didn’t get a box out, we didn’t run an out-of-bounds play that we had called. Some things that we can fix, but I do think the pieces are there so towards the end of the season, come playoff time, we can be team that’s a tough out.”
Columbus Catholic opens defense of its Cloverbelt East championship with a home game against Colby on Tuesday starting at 7:15 p.m.
Marshfield Columbus Catholic Boys Basketball Schedule Fri., Nov. 29 Port Edwards at Wisconsin Rapids Assumption, L, 68-70 Sat., Nov. 30 at Wisconsin Rapids Assumption, W, 58-41 Tue., Dec. 3 COLBY, 7:15 p.m. Fri., Dec. 6 at Spencer, 7:15 p.m. Mon., Dec. 9 AUBURNDALE, 7:15 p.m. Thur., Dec. 12 GRANTON, 7:15 p.m. Sat., Dec. 14 Pacelli at La Crosse Aquinas, 1 p.m. Fri., Dec. 20 at Owen-Withee, 7:15 p.m. Tue., Jan. 7 GILMAN, 7:15 p.m. Fri., Jan. 10 at Greenwood, 7:15 p.m. Thur., Jan. 16 LOYAL, 7:15 p.m. Tue., Jan. 21 at Neillsville, 7:15 p.m. Fri., Jan. 24 at Colby, 7:15 p.m. Thur., Jan. 30 SPENCER, 7:15 p.m. Tue., Feb. 4 at Granton, 7:15 p.m. Thur., Feb. 6 MARATHON, 7:15 p.m. Tue., Feb. 11 OWEN-WITHEE, 7:15 p.m. Thur., Feb. 13 at Gilman, 7:15 p.m. Tue., Feb. 18 GREENWOOD, 7:15 p.m. Fri., Feb. 21 at Loyal, 7:15 p.m. Mon., Feb. 24 NEILLSVILLE, 7:15 p.m. Feb. 27 or Feb. 29 Cloverbelt Crossover, TBA Tue., March 3 WIAA Div. 5 regional quarterfinal, 7 p.m. Home games in CAPS, at Columbus Catholic High School