ONALASKA — After what Onalaska High School boys basketball coach Craig Kowal called a “flat” week of practice this past week, the Hilltoppers did not play their best game on Friday night.
Onalaska found itself in an eight-point hole to Holmen early, and the hot-shooting Vikings held on for a two-point lead at the half.
But sophomore Tyrell Stuttley scored 19 of his game-high 23 points after halftime as fourth-ranked Onalaska pulled out a 65-61 win over the Vikings in front of approximately 1,600 fans at the Charles Deeth Fieldhouse.
“We knew going in that it was going to be a tough game, and it’s a tough matchup for us,” Kowal said of Holmen (6-10, 3-5). “When things aren’t going your way, you just have to slow yourself down and execute a little better, and I thought we did a better job of attacking the basket and getting the ball inside. That kind of weathered the storm a bit.”
Stuttley scored eight straight points for the MVC-leading Hilltoppers (13-1, 7-0) to open the second half, but the balanced 3-point shooting of the Vikings led to six lead changes over the first 11 minutes of the second half. The 6-foot-4 sophomore got things rolling with a right-handed dunk through traffic and added consecutive baskets to give Onalaska a 59-54 lead with 2:29 to play.
“My teammates just found me at the right times,” Stuttley said. “When they drove, I cut, and there were tons of times where I got open layups.”
Senior Noah Skifton added 15 points for the Hilltoppers, who have won 12 straight games. Senior Craig Newsome Jr. paced Holmen with 15 points, while sophomore Cameron Weber hit three of the Vikings’ nine 3-pointers to finish with 11 points.
“Holmen came out and played very well, and they’re a solid team,” Skifton said of the ability to hang on for the win. “It just shows a lot of toughness, especially in the young guys. I expect that out of them, and being able to close games like this in the second half shows a lot about this team.”