McFARLAND — Monona Grove boys basketball coach Dan Zweifel has a wealth of riches at his disposal.
The Silver Eagles have size and length, notably 6-foot-7 senior Jake Schroeckenthaler and 6-7 junior Sam Hepp, and opportunistic guards, led by junior Caden Nelson, who can turn up the defensive pressure.
They have an inside-outside game that includes Schroeckenthaler underneath and senior guard Max Nelson firing from the perimeter and have considerable depth that leads to multiple scoring options.
“We have a lot of pieces to the puzzle and they are playing well,” Zweifel said.
The undefeated Silver Eagles showed all those facets Thursday night, doubling up McFarland 86-43 in a non-conference game.
Max Nelson sank four 3-pointers and had a game-high 16 points for Monona Grove (9-0), ranked No. 7 in Division 2 in the WisSports.net state coaches’ poll. His cousin, Caden Nelson, added 15 points, senior Jimmy Thome contributed 13 points and Schroeckenthaler totaled 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Trevon Chislom, a 6-6 junior forward, and junior Daniel Toennies had 11 and 10 points, respectively, for McFarland (5-3), which saw its five-game winning streak snapped.
Schroeckenthaler, who’s receiving interest from colleges for basketball and golf, had 10 points and 10 rebounds in the first half when the Silver Eagles raced to a 41-16 advantage.
“It’s a fun team to play for,” said Schroeckenthaler, who entered averaging 20.5 points per game after scoring 36 points in a 90-76 victory over Racine Prairie School on Wednesday. “Everyone knows what they are supposed to do. We are all in this together. We are just trying to win ball games.”Schroeckenthaler’s primary goal as a senior is to reach the WIAA state tournament. He’s not worried about his stat line for Monona Grove, the co-leader with Stoughton in the Badger South Conference.
“To me, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “I’m just trying to help the team win ball games. I want to get to the Kohl Center. I want to get to the state tournament. I will do whatever the team needs, whether that is scoring, rebounding, blocking shots or sitting on the bench.”
Zweifel was most pleased with the Silver Eagles’ defense in the first half, which stymied the Spartans’ half-court offense and also created turnovers that led to fast-break points.
“We suffocated McFarland, which is a good, well-coached team,” Zweifel said.
McFarland coach Jeff Meinholdt said his team was stagnant on offense and was hampered by shooting 27 percent from the floor, committing too many turnovers, failing to get back on defense and permitting too many offensive rebounds.
“They are a good basketball team,” Meinholdt said. “They are well-coached. They have a lot of athletes who can play both ends of the floor. So, you give them a lot of credit. For us, we didn’t shoot the ball very well and we turned the ball over 15 times.”
Monona Grove went on a 14-0 run and opened a 19-3 lead with 8 minutes, 27 seconds left before halftime.
“We’ve been doing a good job in transition,” Caden Nelson said. “We are sharing the ball and getting the ball to the open man for a good shot. We knew we’d be a good team. We work hard in practice and have come together as a team to get wins.” McFarland scored six unanswered points and rallied within 26-12. But the Silver Eagles outscored the Spartans 15-4 in the final 2:33 before halftime, gaining a 25-point lead at the break.
“They are really playing well to this point,” said Zweifel, whose team has a 26.2-point margin of victory so far. “You can see they have some chemistry. Some coaches might take credit, but I can’t take credit for all the things they do. They have played a long time together.”
Monona Grove 41 45 — 86
McFarland 16 27 — 43
MONONA GROVE — Nelson 6 0-0 16, Nelson 7 1-4 15, Hepp 4 0-0 9, Scalissi 1 0-0 3, Thome 6 1-2 13, Ellis 1 0-0 2, Schroeckenthaler 5 2-2 12, Huston 2 3-3 8, Gronski 0 2-2 2, Nett 2 0-0 5, Ogden 0 1-5 1. Totals 34 10-18 86.
McFARLAND — Patchin 2 1-4 5, Butler 0 2-4 2, Hanson 1 0-0 2, Chislom 5 1-2 11, Robinson 1 1-2 4, Strode 0 1-2 1, Wanta 0 2-2 2, Witter 1 0-2 3, Toennies 3 2-4 10, Werwinski 0 1-2 1, Schwarting 0 2-2 2. Totals 13 13-26 43.
3-point goals — MG 8 (Nelson 4, Hepp 1, Scalissi 1, Huston 1, Nett 1), MCF 4 (Robinson 1, Witter 1, Toennies 2). Total fouls — MG 22, MCF 19.