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Fall Creek at McDonell boys basketball 12-14-18

McDonell's Cory Hoglund shoots during a game against Fall Creek on Dec. 14 at McDonell.

It hasn’t been an objective.

But rather, a result of doing things well.

No matter how you look at it, the McDonell boys basketball team has quickly become one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the area.

The Macks (6-4, 3-2) have won four of five games entering Thursday’s contest at Eau Claire Regis.

McDonell is averaging a Chippewa County high 8.3 3-pointers per game, with at least nine in each of its last five contests.

The team has the county’s top 3-point marksmen with junior guard JD Bohaty with 29 made buckets from distance. Senior forward Charlie Bleskachek is tied with Stanley-Boyd guard LJ Schmelzer for second with 24 and senior guard Cory Hoglund is tenth with 15.

First-year coach Adam Schilling was aware his team had shooting talent when he took over the program. McDonell struggled to find the basket early in the season, failing to score more than 64 points in its first five games. Since then the team has scored at least 70 in four of its last five games.

“If you watched us from the beginning of the year to now, I think we’ve done a better job moving the ball around the perimeter, getting touches inside,” Schilling said. “If we don’t have a 1-on-1 inside we’re kicking it out to pretty good shooters. I think the spacing has gotten better.”

Bohaty quickly worked his way into an important role for the team after averaging fewer than three points a contest in 2017-18. The 6-foot-4 Bleskachek has thrived by becoming more of a stretch player away from the bucket. The senior has already more than doubled his made 3-pointers from a season ago and Schilling said Bleskachek has benefited from drawing larger defenders on the perimeter and taking advantage of it.

“He’s important as far as spacing the floor,” Schilling said of Bleskachek. “Cory and Jaebin (Bourget) and some of our guards are able to get in the lane, draw the attention and then kick it out to our shooters. It’s a good mix.”

McDonell’s guard rotation has been a bit in flux due to injury until recently, when Bourget returned to the lineup. Fellow guard Trent Witkowski missed the start of the season as well, but Friday’s 73-60 victory over Altoona was the first time this season Schilling felt his team was full strength. The Macks responded by hitting 11 threes.

But those injuries allowed the chance for others to see the floor and the first-year coach believes that will pay big dividends in the second half.

“Now we’ve got more depth in our guard spot now,” Schilling said. “People like Jake Siegenthaler stepped in and played really well when those guys were out. Now he’s another guy to come in and hit threes if we need it. Our depth overall has really improved.”

McDonell has hit at least 10 3-pointers in four games this season, already one more than the team did last season when it finished runner-up to Bangor at the Division 5 state tournament.

Schilling hasn’t made too many changes since taking over for Archie Sherbinow, but has emphasized more movement from passing on offense as opposed to from dribble drives.

That has helped lead to more chances from distance that the Macks have been able to capitalize on.

“The biggest thing we’ve been working on in practice is moving without the ball,” Schilling said. “Moving quickly and then once we get people running at us we’re working on driving in the lane and kicking it out. The progression is we’ve worked really hard in practice on some of the things we saw on film and we’ve tried to correct those things. They’re very smart kids, they catch on quickly.

“It just took us a little time getting comfortable with what we were trying to do on offense.”

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Chippewa Herald sports editor

Chippewa Herald Sports Editor

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