Mounder boys win hard-fought battle over Vikings

COLFAX — It was everything fans, players and coaches expected when the Elk Mound boys invaded the Colfax gym for the first of their two conference matchups last Friday night. Elk Mound entered the game sitting on top of the Dunn-St. Croix Conference with a 6-0 record while the Vikings, after dropping a game to Elmwood a few weeks ago, were 6-1 in conference play. Tight defense by both teams produced somewhat of a low scoring game by both teams’ standards and in the end, the Mounders prevailed with an exciting 49-46 win.

It took almost three minutes before either team put any points on the board as the Vikings mis-fired on three shots including twice from three point land and the Mounders missed twice, once from close range and another from long range. Cody Zivcic finally connected at the 5:22 mark on a triple and Ethin Kiekhafer hit a short jumper for a 5-0 Colfax lead before Ryan Bridges dropped in a pair of free throws for the Mounders. Sawyer DeMoe scored from close range for the Vikings twice but in between those shots, Dakota Tarnow nailed a trey and added a bucket along with one from Hunter Dicus for a 9-9 score. Colfax went on a seven point run with leading scorer Austin Huss driving the baseline for two, DeMoe stepped in front of an errant pass by the Mounders and drove in for a layup and Kiekhafer drained a triple for a 16-9 lead. But Tarnow banged in a buzzer beater from long range and the Vikings’ lead was cut to four at 16-12 at the end of the quarter.

Although there were very few fouls called on either team in the game, two big ones were called early on Colfax post player Lane Olson, prompting coach Andy Meade to set him on the bench for the whole second quarter. The Mounders took advantage of the situation and did something not many fans have witnessed in their entire life of watching Colfax basketball, and that was to see the Vikings held scoreless in a quarter. Two missed free throws, four turnovers, a charging call and two missed shots allowed the Mounders to go on their own run of 11 points. Dicus started the run right off the bat with a shot from long range and Nick Heit, the Mounder’s leading scorer put his team up 17-16 on a bucket from underneath. He added a trey as did teammate Adam Gottschalk and just like that they were up 23-16. After stalling with the ball with 1:20 left, the Mounders fell asleep and were called for a lane violation, and the Vikings had a chance to score with 30 seconds left but came up empty on a final shot attempt.

“Lane got himself into foul trouble early so I had to put him on the bench,” Meade said. “We need him in the game and even though we had some good minutes from other players, we couldn’t finish off our shots.”

Mounder post player Dexter Curry came up with his first bucket of the game on a shot over Olson to start the third quarter for a nine point lead but the Vikings went on another roll as Huss hit twice in the paint, DeMoe added a layup off a steal and Olson scored on a put back to cut the Mounder lead to one at 25-24. Zivcic regained the lead for Colfax on a shot from behind the arc but Austin Hanson hit his only basket of the game to knot the score at 27-27. Travis Nelson then drained a three ball for the Mounders and Kiekhafer ended the scoring for the quarter with a deuce and Elk Mound held a slim 30-29 lead heading into the fianl stanza.

The lead didn’t last long however as Huss scored on another drive, but Curry countered that with his own bucket under the hoop. Huss countered that with another basket underneath, then added a pair of free tosses to put the Vikings up 35-32. Curry missed on a hook shot but Tarnow was fouled on the offensive rebound and he hit both free throws to get his team closer but Huss had an answer again with another bucket in the paint for a 37-34 Colfax lead with 5:00 left in the game.

Heit came up with a huge triple to tie it up and Tarnow put the Mounders back up 39-37 on a short jumper. And again, the Vikings took the lead back on  Zivcic’s third trey of the game before Tarnow hit a jumper in the lane for a 41-40 Mounder lead. Bridges hit from underneath for a three point lead with 1:45 left but Olson scored off an offensive rebound to cut the Mounder lead to a point yet again. With the ball back in the Vikings’ hands after a Mounder foul, Meade called a timeout with .50 seconds left to set up a play. An ally oop pass to an open Olson under the basket was off the mark however, and Elk Mound came up with the ball. It didn’t appear the game would be decided at the free throw line as both teams started the quarter with just two fouls, but now with just four fouls on them, Colfax decided to put the Mounders on the free throw line and had to foul three times rather quickly before they could do it.

A combined ten points were scored in the final 30 seconds, all by Heit and Huss. “Cool Hand” Heit hit  a pair of free throws different three times while Huss added buckets in between and with 2.9 seconds left, the Vikings had the ball and needed a three pointer to tie the game but couldn’t get a decent shot off, allowing Elk Mound fans to finally take a breath.

“Colfax is a great team and they missed a lot of shots tonight,” Elk Mound coach Chris Hahn said after the big win. “But we did a great job on the defensive end in the second quarter and hit big shots ourselves to take the lead. We limited them to just one shot most of the game which was a key for us. We had very balanced scoring as usual and with our starting point guard out sick (Zac Doll) all of our guys did a great job tonight. Nick had ice water in his veins at the foul line and that was important for us. This is just one game though and we have a long way to go yet,” he added.

Meade complimented his team for coming back and keeping the game close, and also gave kudos to Elk Mound.

“For them to come over here and play as well as they did was great,” he said. “Hats off to them for keeping their cool and earning the win.”

Huss was the only Viking in double figure scoring with 18 and was the only Colfax player to shoot free throws, going 2 for 5. Heit and Tarnow shared scoring honors with 14 each for the Mounders who were 10 for 10 from the foul stripe.

ELK MOUND (49)  Heit 3-6-6-14, Tarnow 5-2-2-14, Dicus 2-0-0-5, Bridges 1-2-2-4, Curry 2-0-0-4, Gottschalk 1-0-0-3, Nelson 1-0-0-3, Hanson 1-0-0-2

COLFAX (46) Huss 8-2-5-18, Zivcic 3-0-0-9, DeMoe 4-0-0-8, Kiekhafer 3-0-0-7, Olson 2-0-0-4

THREE POINTERS: Zivcic 3, Heit 2, Tarnow 2, Gottschalk 1, Nelson 1, Dicus 1, Kiekhafer 1