Jan. 22: Holmen vs. Onalaska

Onalaska’s Victor Desmond shoots over Holmen’s Sawyer Phillips during Tuesday’s game at Onalaska High School's Charles Deeth Fieldhouse.

ONALASKA — Tyrell Stuttley’s versatility was on full display Tuesday night, and it helped the Onalaska High School boys basketball team pull out another MVC victory over Holmen.

The 6-foot-4 junior scored 13 points in the Hilltoppers’ 68-37 victory over the Vikings in front of about 700 people at the Charles Deeth Fieldhouse, but his defense against Jimmy Gillespie was probably the bigger story.

Gillespie scored 25 points in his last game and entered Tuesday’s with a scoring average of 14.1 per game, but Stuttley never let him get into a flow as the sixth-ranked Hilltoppers (12-2, 5-1) moved to within a half-game of first-place Central (11-2, 5-0).

Onalaska played well defensively as a whole, but Stuttley’s performance on Gillespie — he only took three shots in the first half — stood out.

“If Gillespie gets going, he can make a bunch in a row,” Onalaska coach Craig Kowal said. “Tyrell did a magnificent job on him, and I don’t know if (Gillespie) scored a point while Tyrell was on him.”

Gillespie made two free throws in the first half and did connect for a 3-pointer in the second — he has at least one in 12 of Holmen’s 13 games — and his nine points led Holmen (6-7, 3-3).

“I wanted to take away the 3-point shots and make him drive because we know what a good shooter he is,” Stuttley said of Gillespie. “I’m quicker than most posts, so I can get out there and guard wings and take those shots away sometimes.”

But the Vikings didn’t create many other options with Gillespie under the control of Stuttley in the first half and fell behind early. Onalaska held the Vikings to 11 first-half points and played at Holmen’s pace before breaking things open after halftime.

Once the Hilltoppers were able to play more at their pace, the game was over.

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“We stayed in the half-court and were patient,” Kowal said. “We tried to push when we could but we didn’t force anything and then got into our flow in the second half and hit some 3s.”

Onalaska junior Carson Arenz led all scorers with 14 points and had 10 of them in the second half. Stuttley had 10 of his in the first half, getting most of them on drives to the rim as teammates fed him the ball.

Onalaska took chances to get up the court when they came in the first half but got many more in the second, and that loosened up the entire offense. The Hilltoppers hit six 3-pointers in the second half, and sophomore Sam Kick had two of them on his way to 11 points.

The Vikings were patient with the ball in the first half, but it didn’t seem to help them. Holmen made just 4 of 22 shots (18.2 percent) after scoring twice in the final 1 minute, 39 seconds of the half.

“I thought we did a good job of contesting their shots,” Kowal said. “Collectively, we did a nice job of helping and recovering well. Our length caused problems when they got in the lane.”

Onalaska did the same thing in a 56-34 victory over Oconomowoc at the La Crosse Center on Saturday, giving the Hilltoppers two very good defensive performances in three days and a two-game winning streak after losing at second-ranked Central on Jan. 11.

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Todd Sommerfeldt can be reached at Todd.Sommerfeldt@lee.net or via Twitter @SommerfeldtLAX