Stoughton junior guard Cael McGee may have been the most eager to get out on the court for the season opener after he suffered a broken ankle that cost him a large chunk of last season.
McGee scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed six rebounds to lead the Vikings to a 53-44 win over Lake Mills on Tuesday, Nov. 26.
“I’m sure all of us were really excited to get back out there,” McGee said. “It’s been really long. I played football, but I was really excited to be back out there for basketball. I was really looking forward to it.”
After breaking his ankle in the third game last year, McGee missed several games and then when he returned, he sprained his other ankle.
“I think he’s really matured,” Stoughton coach Nolan Weber said of McGee. “He’s one of the most athletic kids I have ever coached. When he has things going in the right direction and makes the plays he needs to make instead of trying to force too much, he can be a really explosive scorer for us.”
The Vikings (2-0) followed up the season opener with a 65-52 nonconference home win over McFarland on Saturday, Nov. 30.
Stoughton 53, Lake Mills 44
McGee sparked the Vikings in the season opener against Lake Mills, throwing down a two-handed dunk on a fastbreak that capped a 10-2 first-half run, giving the Vikings a 31-18 advantage at intermission.
Senior guard Nathan Hutcherson knocked down a 3-pointer during the surge to help the Vikings break open a tight game. Huctherson hit four 3s in the game and finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
The Vikings had eight offensive rebounds in the first half and outrebounded the L-Cats 22-11.
“That’s a huge part of who we are,” Weber said. “We are not always the best scoring and shooting team. For us to get on the offensive glass and clean up some of our misses, that has to be a big part of who we are.”
The Vikings limited the L-Cats to 25% shooting in the first half (5-for-20).
“Once we got it going, I thought our defense really propelled us in the right direction and gave us some offense,” Weber said.
Senior guard Adam Hobson was 0-for-6 shooting in the first half and was limited to two points. Hobson finished the game 0-for-9 shooting and scored four points.
Weber said last year the Vikings may not have won a game like this.
“Even when he (Hobson) doesn’t score, he still makes plays for a lot of other people and rebounds,” Weber said. “It’s nice to not have to count on him for everything. For him to only have four points and for us to still have a good team effort and pick everything else up is a sign of good things to come.”
Lake Mills opened the second half on a 10-2 run thanks in large part to its switch to a 1-3-1 zone.
“At first, we were playing a little timid against the 1-3-1 and we were scared to shoot,” Hutcherson said. “Once we started attacking the 1-3-1, they collapses and we kicked out and got shooters open.”
Lake Mills junior Drew Johnson had a three-point play, and classmate Grant Horkan buried a 3 to slice the Vikings’ lead to 33-28 with 13:35 left.
Stoughton weathered the storm and responded when Hutcherson hit a 3 to extend the Vikings’ lead to 46-35 with 8:35 to go.
Hutcherson said he worked the most in the summer on his outside shooting.
“I have to be confident in every game I come in now,” he said. “I just have to shoot it no matter what. It will go in eventually.”
After the L-Cats got within six points with 5:30 to go, Hutcherson drilled a 3 to make it 49-40. Stoughton junior Reece Sproul had a team-high eight rebounds.
Stoughton 65, McFarland 52
McGee scored a game-high 17 points to propel the Vikings past the Spartans.
Hobson scored 16 points and Nelson added 10. Sproul pitched in nine points, and junior Luke Fernholz chipped in eight.
Stoughton outscored McFarland 35-28 in the second half.