When the Columbus Catholic boys basketball team was handed their sectional final champions plaque Saturday, they drew one step closer to their dream of earning a gold ball in Madison. By Monday, reality had set in, and the Dons were back to work."
"This year we're really going down there with a purpose, and we want to come back with a gold ball," said Columbus Catholic Senior Jarred Mandel. "That's what we're focused on this week. We're taking it each day at a time and getting better and preparing for Friday morning, and hopefully Saturday morning too."
Mandel and his fellow seniors are familiar with playing on such a big stage. They did it back as sophomores in 2017. It didn't go their way back then, but they hope the experience will benefit them this time around.
"Yeah I really think it will help," said Columbus Catholic senior Bryce Fuerlinger. "Now we know what to expect, locker rooms, everything. Sophomore year was a big adjustment when we got there. Now we're a bit more acclimated and hopefully that helps."
Their opponent, reigning division 5 state champion Bangor will know what to expect too.
"They're very good," said Columbus Catholic head coach Joe Konieczny. "They only have one loss and they have a very solid player inside and four players around him that can shoot and get to the rim. They like to play fast and if we don't hold them to one shot and get some rebounds and really focus on (Bangor's Grant) Manke inside, we're going to be in trouble. We're going to work on that a lot this week and work on the things that we've been doing the first 27 games of the season and try to enjoy it as much as possible."
The Dons have found themselves in the state semifinal twice before, but they've never played on championship Saturday. Getting over that hump they say, would be big."
"It would mean a lot," said Mandel. "To get a ball in any aspect is going to be awesome. I mean we're there for the gold ball especially, but to make it to Saturday, championship Saturday would be awesome."