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#2 Redbirds perched alone atop SWAL
rjDarl BBB Ruesga color
DARLINGTON GUARD Tony Ruesga (#24) goes up and over a trio of Southwestern defenders for a basket in Mondays 74-42 SWAL win over the Wildcats. The #2-ranked Redbirds improve to 5-0 with the victory.

    DARLINGTON – The season is just five games old for the head coach Tom Uppena’s Darlington boys’ basketball team, but the #2-ranked Redbirds are right where they want to be- unbeaten and sitting perched alone atop the Southwest Wisconsin Activities League.
    The Redbirds (5-0 overall, 4-0 SWAL) took sole possession of the league lead by besting Mineral Point, 78-58, on the road and Southwestern, 74-42, at home in a pair of conference clashes on the hardwood. Darlington is the last unbeaten team in the SWAL.
    Four players scored in double figures as the ‘Birds flew by the Pointers, 78-58, at MPHS on Tuesday, Dec. 13. Senior forward Josh Soper buried three 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 20 points to lead Darlington, who bolted out to a 39-23 halftime lead.
    Senior guards Ryan Glendenning (17 points), Trevor Johnson (13) and Will Schwartz (10) all reached double figures for the ‘Birds, while senior forward Hunter Johnson chipped in with eight points.
    Junior guard Chase Wendhausen scored 13 points to lead the Pointers (4-2, 2-1). Senior forwards Jack Warrick and Lance Steffes added 12 and 11 points, respectively, and freshman guard Isaac Lindsey was held to eight points.
    Darlington’s SWAL meeting with Southwestern on Friday, Dec. 16, was postponed due to snow and cold temperatures, but the teams met up at DHS on Monday, Dec. 19, in a make-up contest.
    The Redbirds may have had to wait a few days to get the game played, but they wasted little time getting off to a fast start against the Wildcats (2-3, 1-3).
    Trevor Johnson poured in all 17 of his points in the first half to carry the ‘Birds out to a 49-16 halftime lead. Will Schwartz tacked on 12 of his game-high 18 points and sophomore Stryker Fitzsimons added all seven of his points in the first half to aid the rout.
    Schwartz and Josh Soper each netted six points early in the second half to extend Darlington’s lead to 66-22 before the ‘Birds decided to tap the brakes. The ‘Cats closed the game on a 20-6 scoring run.
    Soper finished with eight points, while Tanner Evenstad chipped in with six points and Tony Ruesga added five.
    Sophomores Shaun Cooper and Dylan Rieken scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, for the Wildcats.
      Next up, Darlington has a tough non-conference game at Platteville on Thursday, Dec. 22.
Darlington……. 39   39 – 78
Mineral Point… 23   35 – 58
    Darlington – Hunter Johnson 8, Will Schwartz 10, Tanner Evenstad 4, Ryan Glendenning 17, Josh Soper 20, Bailey McGuire 2, Trevor Johnson 13, Stryker Fitzsimons 4. Totals – 35  3-4  78.
    Mineral Point – Berget 4, Gorgen 3, Heisner 2, Lindsey 8, Paradis 5, Steffes 11, Warrick 12, Wendhausen 13. Totals – 19  15-29  58.
    3-point goals– D 5 (Glendenning 3, Soper 1, T. Johnson 1), MP 5 (Lindsey 1, Steffes 3, Wendhausen 1). Total fouls– D 23, MP 12. Fouled out– None.
Southwestern…. 16   26 – 42
Darlington……… 49   25 – 74
    Southwestern – Splinter 3. Wilson 2, Jochum 5, Lopez 3, Cooper 12, Rieken 10, Stangl 7. Totals – 15  9-16  42.
    Darlington – Hunter Johnson 3, Will Schwartz 18, Tanner Evenstad 6, Ryan Glendenning 4, Mason Stone 2, Josh Soper 8, Bailey McGuire 1, Trevor Johnson 17, Stryker Fitzsimons 7, Tony Ruesga 5, Kameron Blosch 3. Totals – 32  6-8  74.
    3-point goals– S 3 (Jochum 1, Lopez 1, Stangl 1), D 4 (Schwartz 2, T. Johnson 1, Blosch 1). Total fouls– S 12, D 17. Fouled out– None.