MONONA — An offensive rebound and two free throws might not seem like a highlight-reel moment.
But for Monona Grove senior Kyle Nett, the effort the 6-foot-7, 175-pound forward put into grabbing that rebound in traffic and away from Stoughton’s Jack Nelson — a 6-7, 270-pound junior — was pivotal to the outcome of Thursday night’s Badger South Conference boys basketball game.
Nett, after being fouled, stepped to the foul line and sank two free throws with 0.6 seconds remaining to give Monona Grove a 63-61 victory.
“I’d say this is probably my biggest game (in high school),” Nett said. “I worked hard. It’s not the highest scoring, but I worked the hardest.”
Nett, who had four points, said he just needed to stay calm and block out the crowd noise while shooting the free throws.
“It’s a big win,” he said. “We’ve been working pretty hard. It means a lot to us.”
Senior guard Caden Nelson made four 3-pointers and 10 free throws en route to a team-high 24 points for the Silver Eagles (9-4, 5-2 Badger South), who rallied from a 39-30 halftime deficit. Monona Grove senior guard Henry Huston scored 14 points and 6-7 senior Sam Hepp had 11.
“At halftime we talked about playing harder, playing for the teammates and defending the home court,” said Monona Grove coach Dan Zweifel, whose team scored the first 10 points after halftime and outscored Stoughton 33-22 in the second half. “Our guys came out defensively in the second half and I thought were pretty good.”
Stoughton junior Adam Hobson made seven 3-pointers and led the Vikings (7-5, 5-2) with 25 points.
“He’s a good shooter,” Stoughton coach Nolan Weber said. “We lean on him to make perimeter shots.”
Stoughton sophomore guard Cael McGee came off the bench and had 11 points. Starting center Nelson, who has orally committed to the University of Wisconsin for football as an offensive tackle, finished with 10 points.
Stoughton entered the game tied with Oregon for first place. With a victory over Fort Atkinson, Oregon took over sole possession of first with a 6-1 league mark. Monona Grove, Stoughton and Monroe are tied for second with 5-2 records.
Hobson made two free throws to put Stoughton ahead 60-56 with 2:31 left. But the Vikings — who wound up 8-for-19 at the foul line — missed six of seven free throws after that.
Huston connected on a 3-pointer, bringing the Silver Eagles within 60-59 with 1:18 remaining. Stoughton turned over the ball and that led to Silver Eagles senior forward Jordan Bishop scoring inside off an inbounds pass, giving Monona Grove a 61-60 lead with 1:15 to play.
After Stoughton senior Drew Anderson made the second of two free throws and tied the game at 61 with 1:01 remaining, the Silver Eagles worked for a final shot. Caden Nelson took a pass with 10 seconds left, drove toward the basket and put up a runner in the lane. The shot missed, but Nett corralled the rebound and Jack Nelson was called for pushing Nett.
“(Caden Nelson) got a pretty good look,” Zweifel said. “We got Kyle to crash the boards. I think it was over Jack Nelson, too, and he’s giving up at least 100 pounds to Jack. And he got the rebound.”
Said Weber: “We got unlucky on that (rebound). But we had plenty of opportunities to put the game away (prior to that).”
After Nett made the first free throw, Zweifel wanted Nett to miss the second. But Nett made it. Stoughton’s long inbounds pass was caught by Hobson, but his off-balance 3-point attempt from about 30 feet was short as time expired.
Stoughton used a 21-5 run — including a 14-0 outburst — to take the 39-30 lead into halftime.
“They pressure really hard and just made us play,” Weber said. “The kids, once they figured out the press, did a nice job making plays. We couldn’t really run anything specific because of their pressure. But guys got to the rim and created open shots for other guys. That was good to see us break out because we struggle offensively, sometimes.”
Stoughton 39 22 — 61
Monona Grove 30 33 — 63
STOUGHTON — McGee 4 1-2 11, Hutcherson 2 1-2 5, D. Anderson 1 4-6 6, A. Hobson 8 2-8 25, Sproul 1 0-0 2, Conklin 0 0-0 0, L. Fernholz 1 0-1 2, J. Nelson 5 0-0 10. Totals 22 8-19 61.
MONONA GROVE — C. Nelson 5 10-12 24, Bishop 1 0-0 2, I. Stinson 1 0-0 3, Hepp 3 4-5 11, Huston 5 2-2 14, Loken 1 0-0 3, L. Nelson 1 0-0 2, Gronski 0 0-0 0, Antonson 0 0-0 0, Nett 2-2 4. Totals 18 18-21 63.
3-point goals — S 9 (Hobson 7, McGee 2); MG 9 (C. Nelson 4, Huston 2, Stinson 1, Hepp 1, Loken 1). Total fouls — S 20; MG 21. Fouled out — Bishop.