Prep Boys Basketball: Hilltoppers smother Cardinals

2012-01-18T00:15:00Z 2012-01-18T06:20:57Z Prep Boys Basketball: Hilltoppers smother CardinalsTODD SOMMERFELDT | La Crosse Tribune
January 18, 2012 12:15 am  • 

ONALASKA — The Onalaska High School boys basketball team likely had enough firepower to hang with Chippewa Falls if a shootout was forced.

But no matter the tempo, Tuesday night's nonconference game against the Cardinals was going to be an easier one to win if the Hilltoppers could eliminate the threat of senior Tyson Kalien.

Kalien walked into the Chuck Deeth Fieldhouse with a 26.1-point scoring average after lighting up Logan for 43 on Saturday.

Junior Clint Rihn and senior Austin Meier saw to it that Kalien didn't have a similar experience against the state's top-ranked Division 2 team.

Onalaska used a strong start and solid defense on Kalien to score a 62-39 victory over the Cardinals in front of about 500 people.

Kalien, a 6-foot-2 guard, was held to two points in the first half before hitting four 3-pointers in the second to finish with 14 points.

With Rihn and Meier taking turns chasing him around the court, Kalien only touched the ball with the option of shooting four times in the first half.

He was fouled on one and missed three jump shots. Kalien was held to nine shots overall.

"He's a good shooter, but they play great defense when we decide to do that," Onalaska junior Matt Thomas said. "They've shut down a lot of people this season."

With Kalien a non-factor for the first two quarters, Onalaska (11-1) built a 36-12 lead that included a 16-2 run through the second quarter.

Thomas scored 15 of his game-high 24 points in the first half, and the Hilltoppers pulled away with the help of solid rebounding and defensive pressure that produced plenty of transition opportunities.

"Our plan was to attack and get some transition points," Onalaska coach Craig Kowal said. "I think we got a bunch in the first half before we got a little sloppy in the second."

Thomas scored 11 of his points during a stretch of 3 minutes, 8 seconds in the first quarter. That pushed Onalaska's lead into double figures for the rest of the game.

"He's a special player," Chippewa Falls coach Luke Madsen said of Thomas, who also had four assists and four steals. "What he does so well, I think, is impact the game without the ball in his hands.

"He scores, but he also defends and finds people."

The Cardinals (5-6) had a two-game winning streak snapped and shot 28.2 percent from the floor. They also shot 16.7 percent (4-for-24) inside the 3-point line.

Onalaska senior Ben Socha scored eight of his 12 points in the second quarter as the Hilltoppers stretched a 10-point lead to 36-12.

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