Each player took a turn cutting down a portion of the net after the Stoughton boys basketball team rolled to a 72-57 win over Monona Grove on Thursday, Feb. 27, to clinch the outright Badger South Conference championship.
The Vikings (19-3, 12-2 Badger South), ranked sixth in the Division 2 Associated Press state poll, celebrated Senior Night with a dominant performance. Five seniors started and each contributed to the victory.
Junior Cael McGee scored a game-high 24 points and senior Adam Hobson added 21 points. Junior Reece Sproul posted a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
“This was our first goal throughout the year,” Hobson said of winning the conference championship. “Not our biggest one, but our first one. I’m glad it’s ours. We did the sharing in football. We wanted to take it ourselves.”
Stoughton shared the conference title with Milton in football with a Week 9 win over Monona Grove.
The Vikings used a 19-0 run in the first half to gain breathing room for the rest of the game. McGee converted a three-point play then hit three straight 3-pointers, to give Stoughton a 20-7 lead with 8:32 left before halftime.
“Cael came out ready to go and pumped up in front of a great crowd,” Hobson said of McGee. “Once he hits his first couple of shots, then he’s ready to go and locked in.”
The Vikings led 38-15 at intermission by limiting the Silver Eagles to 23% shooting (6-for-26) in the first half and trapping ball-handlers in corners.
“We usually don’t get a lot of steals in the corners,” Hobson said. “Usually, it’s off of skip passes and rotating well on defense.”
Sproul scored eight of his points in the first half and finished with four offensive rebounds that led to second-chance scoring opportunities.
“I felt like last time I didn’t do enough going for the ball and rebounding,” Sproul said. “I really wanted to make that my goal to go get the ball, rebound, score and do what I can to help my team.”
Vikings coach Nolan Weber credited Sproul for being aggressive and taking advantage of his 6-foot-6 frame.
“That’s huge when we get that kind of production out of him. We become a different team,” Weber said. “He just has to make sure he’s always giving everything he’s got.”
Stoughton led by as many as 27 points in the second half, but had its lead cut to 55-41. Senior Owen Chase buried a 3 to push the lead to 62-45 with 6:45 to go.
Stoughton junior Konner Knauf chipped in six points and Chase pitched in five. Senior Tyler Martinson had a monster two-handed dunk late in the game.
“It was great to get those guys in there and get them some time in a real part of the game they deserve,” Weber said. “To have those guys come out in front of a big crowd and help us get off to a great start at the beginning of the first and second half was great. They really deserved it.”
Stoughton, the top seed in the top half of the Division 2 McFarland Sectional, will play a conference foe for the third time in the regional semifinals. The Vikings will host the winner of Monona Grove and Oregon on Friday, March 6.
“Playoffs are a different story,” Weber said. “It’s do or die. Whoever comes out of there will come out with nothing to lose and a lot of confidence.”