Editor's note: Dennis Semrau covers prep sports for ESPN Madison 100.5 FM.
MOUNT HOREB -- Mitch Listau has emerged not only as one of the best players in the area but in the state, too.
Friday night, he also staked his claim for Badger North Conference Player of the Year honors.
Listau finished with a game-high 31 points, including 20 in the second half, to lead visiting fifth-ranked Waunakee to 61-49 victory over Mount Horeb in a Badger North Conference boys’ basketball game.
For his efforts, Listau was named the ‘Gatorade Player of the Game’ in the Prep Mania Game of the Week.
“Listau is a great player. He hurt us from inside and out,” Mount Horeb coach Todd Nesheim said of the 6-foot-3 junior guard, who also finished with four rebounds, four assists and four steals.
“He will perhaps go down as one of the conference’s best players ever by the time he graduates. He is always in control and doesn’t force things. Of course, he has plenty of support, too.”
Sophomore guard Josh Cash came off the bench to score 14 points, while junior guard Mason Steffen chipped in with 10 points for Waunakee, which improved to 18-2 overall, including 11-0 in the Badger North Conference.
The Warriors, who clinched their second straight conference title and ninth in the last 11 years last week, sank five consecutive 3-pointers to take a 15-5 lead just over 6 minutes into the game and never looked back.
Listau started the opening surge with back-to-back 3s before Cash drained consecutive 3s, and Steffen sank a 3 off an assist from Listau to get the Warriors off and running.
“Seeing those first threes going in, you want to keep it going. I just stayed aggressive looking for my shot but other guys were making plays, too, which is good. Winning here is always great. Gym is filled, great atmosphere so it’s fun,” Listau said.
When Waunakee featured a lineup of four guards – starters Listau, Ronk and Steffen and reserve Cash – Mount Horeb had its hands full on defense.
“The great part of our team is we can trust everyone on the court at all times to make the right play,” Listau said. “Tyler (Ronk) is always looking to create and make opportunities for everyone else.”
But when you live by the 3, you can also run into problems when the streak goes cold as the Warriors found out when they missed their ensuing seven consecutive 3-point attempts to help Mount Horeb make a comeback.
The Vikings (11-9, 6-5) went on a 12-3 run fueled by its’ tight interior pack defense to pull within 18-17 on senior guard Ryan Kratochwill’s three-point play with 3:36 left in the first half.
Mount Horeb held Waunakee without a field goal for a 7-minute span.
But the Warriors closed the first half on an 8-2 run to take a 26-17 lead into halftime.
“Getting those 3s early might not have been the best for us because the focus has been to touch the post. We wanted a little inside-out game but they really pack it in,” Waunakee coach Dana Mackenzie said of Mount Horeb.
“They’re physical down there and our guys kind of backed down in the first half and didn’t really try to post up. It’s not that we weren’t looking, we weren’t posting up.”
Senior guard Michael Holum scored on a layup to open the second half for Mount Horeb before Waunakee used an 8-3 run to open up a 34-24 lead just over 3 minutes into the second half.
Listau and Steffen scored four points each in the surge to get the Warriors rolling.
“We’ve played together since fifth grade. We know what each other is doing probably before the other one knows. I love playing with him. He’s the best,” Steffen said of Listau.
“After I saw him hit those first two 3s, I’m like ‘let’s get him the ball’. We’ll go find him some shots. It worked. We did it within our offense which is the best way.”
Mount Horeb trimmed its deficit to 37-33 on senior forward Domonic Krueger’s 3 off an assist from junior guard Travis Klassy with 11:12 left to play.
Waunakee, though, put the game away with a 20-8 surge with Listau contributing 10 points and an assist during the scoring spree.
“It was a pretty good game,” said Listau, whose career-high is 36 points, set against Chicago’s Providence St. Mel last season. “I made my shots and tried not to force too much. I kept up my intensity on both ends of the floor and we got the win.”
Holum led Mount Horeb with 13 points but the Vikings simply didn’t have the firepower to match Waunakee’s scoring depth in the starting lineup and off the bench.
“Cash’s shooting off the bench hurt us,” Nesheim said. “I was pretty pleased defensively for most of the game. Obviously our ability to take care of the ball in the first half especially hurt us.”
Mackenszie said he isn’t surprised by what Listau can do.
“He can score but he has an all-around game and sees the floor well. He hit some 3s and got to the rim quite a few times during that run we had in the second half,” Mackenzie said. He’s good. He’s a good player. He’s one of the best around. He’s got guys around him, too, who did their job.
“We’ve got plenty of scoring options. The more we move the ball, the more shots we’ll get for him or anyone else.”
Waunakee……….26 35 — 61
Monona Grove….19 30 — 49
WAUNAKEE — Josh Cash 3 5-6 14, Tyler Ronk 1 0-0 3, Nate Carter 0 0-2 0, Mitch Listau 13 1-2 31, Mason Steffen 4 1-2 10, Matt Broadway 1 0-0 3. Totals 22 7-12 61.
MOUNT HOREB — Bama Doyle 0 1-3 1, Jackson Rose 1 0-0 2, Gunnar Nortman 2 0-0 4, Domonic Krueger 1 2-2 5, Michael Holum 5 0-0 13, Ryan Kratochwill 3 1-1 8, Bryan Farnsworth 3 0-0 9, Tyler Crubaugh 1 0-0 3, Mitch Ryan 1 0-0 2, Eyob Urban 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 4-6 49.
3-point goals — W 10 (Josh Cash 3, Tyler Ronk 1, Mitch Listau 4, Mason Steffen 1, Matt Broadway 1), MH 9 (Domonic Krueger 1, Michael Holum 3, Ryan Kratochwill 1, Bryan Farnsworth 3, Tyler Crubaugh 1). Total fouls — W 14, MH 11.