Two rivals squared off in an annual early-season non-conference match-up on Monday night inside the Elmer Lemon Gym at Monticello High School.
The visiting New Glarus Glarner Knights raced out to a 7-0 lead over the first three minutes, including a basket off of the tip-off to get the scoring started just three seconds into the game. From that point forward, the home team adjusted and cruised to an 11-point victory.
Keyed early on by Reece Rufer, the Monticello Ponies put together a 14-2 run following the slow start to take a lead at 9-7 and never trailed again. In fact, Rufer led the Ponies in scoring with 23 points, including a late and-one play to slam the door shut on a New Glarus rally.
Coach Mark Olson said after the game that he knew that early opponents would focus on Rufer and Peter Gustafson, the team's leading returning scorers, but the MVP of the night was Simon Blohowiak. Blohowiak had 14 points, 11 rebounds, and rarely left the floor running point for the Ponies in their 11-point win over the defending Division 4 state champions.
On the other side, New Glarus got a monster effort from Nathan Streiff, who ripped off 11 points in the first 4:30 of the second half to get the Glarner Knights in striking distance, but foul trouble kept New Glarus from putting together a rally down the stretch. Streiff finished with a game-high 26 points.
With the win, Monticello now owns a pair of early-season victories over #1 seeds from a year ago in Division 4, including their season-opening win over Parkview. The Ponies, who will compete in Division 5 this year, will take on Belmont on Saturday in non-conference Six Rivers Conference crossover play with a 2-0 record.
New Glarus, with a loss last week to Evansville as well, begins the season 0-2, the same number of losses they had last year during their 26-2 state championship season, and will play Lena-Winslow on Saturday.
The Big 1070's coverage of high school hoops continues Tuesday night as Mount Horeb visits Monona Grove with a 7 p.m. airtime.