The Stoughton boys basketball team went 1-1 against Division 1 foes at the Cardinal Holiday Classic last week.
The Vikings beat host Middleton 56-45 on Saturday, Dec. 28, a day after falling to Chippewa Falls 55-54.
Stoughton 56, Middleton 45
Junior guard Cael McGee scored a game-high 17 points to propel the Vikings past the Cardinals.
Senior Adam Hobson, a Michigan Tech commit, and sophomore Barrett Nelson each added 11 points. Sophomore Luke Fernholz pitched in nine points.
The Vikings (7-2) led 22-18 lead at the half.
Logan Schultz paced Middleton with 13 points.
Chippewa Falls 55, Stoughton 54
Hobson scored a game-high 19 points and junior guard Konner Knauf played valuable minutes off the bench, but the Vikings lost a nail-biter to the Cardinals.
“That’s the kind of game we need to learn how to win,” Stoughton coach Nolan Weber said. “We are better than the average teams and we are not quite as good as the good teams. Monroe and Chippewa Falls are the most talented teams we have seen so far and both of them have knocked us out in the end.”
McGee drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game at 52 with 1:11 left, but Chippewa Falls junior forward Jacob Walczak converted a three-point play with 16 seconds remaining.
Vikings junior Reece Sproul made a layup with 0.3 seconds to go, but there was no time for a foul to get the ball back.
“There were just a couple of mental lapses and we didn’t start the play off right away,” Hobson said. “It’s not a last-play type of thing. The game is too long to blame it on one last thing at the end.”
McGee scored 15 points and Knauf hit three 3s for nine points. Hobson knocked down five 3s to lead the Vikings.
“I’m always finding new things to improve on,” Hobson said. “I’m never satisfied with where I’m at. The big thing for me is coming into the game with confidence and playing aggressively.”
Chippewa Falls senior Peyton Rogers-Schmidt scored 10 points in the first half, but Hobson held the 6-foot-6 forward scoreless in the second half.
“There are not a lot of guys in our area that are 6-6 that are athletic and can get to the rim,” Hobson said. “A lot of times, he’s getting to the rim and finishing at the rim over top of guys. I took that to heart a little bit to do things to stop him. There were a lot of guys doing a really great job of communicating and helping off on him.”
Chippewa Falls junior Joe Reuter scored a team-high 16 points. Stoughton senior guard Nathan Hutcherson despite being five inches shorter than Reuter.
“Hutch is our best guy when it comes to guarding a shooter,” Weber said, “and Adam is probably our best guy when we need to stop the driver and being in good position.”
The Cardinals posed a challenge with a guard-heavy attack.
“We don’t see a lot of teams that shoot it the way they do and essentially put five guards and ball handlers out on the floor at once,” Weber said.
Hobson hit a trio of 3s early on to help the Vikings jump out to a 13-7 lead. Both teams shot 50% in the first half, as Chippewa Falls battled back to take a 31-27 lead at the break.
The Cardinals started the second half on an 8-2 run. Weber took a timeout and the Vikings responded. Knauf and Hobson each knocked down a 3 cut the Cardinals’ lead to 41-38 with 10:49 left.
Hobson said Knauf and Fernholz have done a lot of the dirty work the past several games.
“That helps give us energy plays and runs,” Hobson said. “They both had the majority of our offensive rebounds. Konner shot it with confidence and knocked down some 3s. That really sparked us.”
The Vikings had chances down the stretch inside, but couldn’t convert at the rim.
“They did a nice job and some of it was we didn’t finish the way we need to finish,” Weber said. “I thought they (Nelson and Sproul) were posting up hard. As long as we continue to do that, good things will start happening, even if they are not always efficient.”