Six days after getting off to a blazing start en route to an exhilarating victory at La Crosse Logan, the Tomah Timberwolves got off to a terrible start at home against Holmen and suffered a disappointing loss.
Holmen zipped out to a 16-2 lead that proved decisive in a 72-62 victory over Tomah in a Mississippi Valley Conference boys basketball contest Thursday. The Timberwolves fell to 1-1 in the Mississippi Valley Conference and 3-2 overall. Holmen improved to 2-4 overall and 2-2 in the MVC.
The game was a nearly 180-degree flip from Logan, where Tomah took a 20-5 lead and won in overtime.
“We didn’t come out with fire and make sure to value the ball,” Tomah coach Brad Plueger said. “We didn’t adapt to the speed of play; we didn’t get back on defense.”
All of those problems played out in the first two minutes, when the Timberwolves committed four turnovers on their first four possessions and handed Holmen an 8-0 lead.
The Vikings stretched the lead to 16-2, forcing Plueger to burn two timeouts in the first six minutes.
The two teams played even after that. Holmen got its biggest lead when Kevin Koelbl drained a 3-pointer to put the Vikings ahead 31-13, but Tomah ended the half with a 7-2 run.
The contest got competitive again early in the second half when Tomah opened with a 4-0 run, punctuated by a midcourt steal by Kyle Kroener, who fed Dahlke for an alley-oop dunk that shrunk the gap to 33-24.
A bucket by Mason Gerke got Tomah to within 41-35 with 9:40 left before foul trouble blunted Tomah’s rally. Starters Peter Brey, Trevor Shutter and Dahlke would all pick up their fourth fouls over the next two minutes, and Holmen began to find holes in Tomah’s zone defense.
The Vikings rebuilt their lead to 55-40 with 5:36 left and never led by fewer than eight points after that.
“We didn’t execute, and we didn’t shoot the ball well,” Plueger said. “We didn’t get many offensive rebounds in the first half.”
Dahlke led the Timberwolves with 17 points and 15 rebounds. He made five of seven foul shots.
Kroener had 15 points, 13 of which came after halftime when he began breaking down Holmen’s defense with drives into the lane.
“Kyle has been doing a better job of attacking the rim,” Plueger said.
Gerke came off the bench to score eight.
Holmen’s Jimmy Gillespie led all scorers with 21 points. He accounted for three of the Vikings’ eight 3-pointers.
“It’s hard to get their corner threes, and they shot the three very well,” Plueger said.
Other than Dahlke, the Timberwolves struggled from the foul line, where they were 13 of 24.
The Timberwolves return home for pair of contests against potential WIAA sectional tournament opponents this week. They play Menomonie Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and host River Falls Friday at 5:30 p.m. with both games at Tomah High School.
Plueger said the results will go a long way in determining sectional seeding.
“They’re like conference games for us,” he said. “They’re important games for the Mississippi Valley Conference and to represent ourselves at the seeding meeting.”
The Timberwolves begin the new year Jan. 2 by playing the second half of a girls/boys varsity doubleheader at Adams-Friendship.
HOLMEN 72 TOMAH 62
Holmen—Newsome 9, Clements 2, Hart 10, Gillespie 21, Weber 15, Koelbl 8, Phillips 1, Grass 6.
Tomah—Gnewikow 5, Kroener 15, Brandt 6, Gerke 8, Dahlke 17, Shutter 5, Brey 6.
Three-point goals—Newsome, Hart 2, Gillespie 3, Weber, Koelbl, Gnewikow, Brandt, Gerke 2.
MVC BOYS BASKETBALL
Results of Dec. 21
Holmen 72 Tomah 62
Central 81 Hudson 49 (nc)
Onalaska Luther 69 Sparta 66 (nc)
Onalaska 86 Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau 73 (nc)
Result of Dec. 22
Sauk Prairie 72 Aquinas 52