ONALASKA — It’s rare that a young player at the varsity level looks as comfortable as Onalaska High School sophomore Tyrell Stuttley does right now.
Stuttley stood out Friday at Charles Deeth Fieldhouse among a group of players on the floor that featured soon-to-be NCAA Division I and Division II scholarship athletes.
He was the catalyst of the Hilltoppers’ run late in the first half that got them out of a sluggish start and helped them run away with a 71-46 MVC win over Logan in front of an estimated crowd of 800 people.
Stuttley — a 6-foot-4 forward who was one of the key reserves for Onalaska last season — scored six straight points for the Hilltoppers after a timeout get things rolling for his team. That spark kicked off what became a 21-5 run that spanned the final five minutes of the first half and the first three minutes of the second that put Onalaska (8-1, 3-0 MVC) in control for good.
He scored a game-high 24 points, including nine baskets in the paint and 14 points in the second half.
“We were more aggressive on defense and offense,” Stuttley said of the key stretch.
That aggressiveness was on display early, as Stuttley and Logan sophomore Jahkai Funches were hit with double technical after jawing at one another after Funches fouled Stuttley on a first-half shot. After that, Stuttley attacked the paint and scored through contact often. His trio of baskets to start the decisive run — a breakaway layup, finishing a drive and kick, and a put back of a teammate's close-range miss — were all within a foot of the rim.
“He’s starting to come into his body and he’s getting stronger,” Onalaska coach Craig Kowal said. “And he’s becoming a matchup nightmare. He hit a 3, you put him at the high post and he can go by, he can score in a variety of ways.
“He’s an important piece to our offense. Once we were able to get him the ball and work through him, our offense flowed a lot better.”
The other key piece to the Hilltoppers staying unbeaten in conference was the work they did defensively on Logan senior CJ Siegel.
Siegel — unquestionably one of the best players in the area and a D-I football recruit of University of North Dakota — had a rough night. He was hounded by Onalaska senior Noah Skifton, a Division II Minnesota-Duluth football recruit, all night and was held scoreless in the first half.
“When you hold a kid that’s that good down like that, you have to have a good on-ball defender and Noah just frustrated him all night long,” Kowal said. “When (Siegel) tried to drive, our help was there. The job Noah Skifton did was as good as I’ve seen anybody guard him.”
Siegel finished with eight points.
The Rangers (3-6, 1-2) controlled the first 13 minutes of the game, and held a 19-15 lead when the Hilltoppers started their run. Logan’s best offense game from 6-6 junior forward Maguire Werner, who was the leading scorer at halftime with 11 points in the paint, going toe-to-toe with Stuttley down low.
The problem after halftime, though, and the one Logan coach Andy Fernholz lamented afterward, was that Werner got so few touches and the Rangers didn’t match Onalaska’s energy level.
“When they upped their aggressiveness, we just didn’t get there,” Fernholz said. “It’s a process, and we’re learning, but we just didn’t have it tonight.”
Stuttley wasn’t shy about what he wants for the Hilltoppers in the coming weeks, which feature showdowns with Sparta, Tomah, and defending state champion Central.
“These next few conference games will be really huge for us,” he said, “to get momentum for the 19th and so we can play Central and beat them.”