Playing in the confines of their own gym, the Elk Mound girls dropped a 62-52 contest to Fall Creek, the second place team in the Western Cloverbelt Conference Jan. 28, then returned to conference play and took on Glenwood City three days later. They put themselves back on the winning track with a 53-39 win over the Toppers.
The Crickets showed they are a team to be reckoned with in the next few years as six of the nine players who scored in the game were freshmen or sophomores. Leading the group was sophomore Tatum Mayenschein who collected 27 of her team’s points, with all of them coming from close range or the free throw line.
Elk Mound took their only lead of the game just six seconds in as Kaysi Meindel took the opening tip from Josie Hayes and drove to the hoop for a lay-up. Fall Creek answered with seven straight points however, forcing the Mounders to play catch up the rest of the game.
Down 15-8 late in the first quarter, Hayes dropped in a pair of free throws and scored on a fast break lay-up off an assist from Katie Johnson to get the Mounders to within three points. The Crickets came back again and went up 21-14 before Mckenna McVey hit a free toss, Hayes dropped in two of her own and McVey scored from underneath via a Jamie Solem assist to cut the deficit to 23-19. Both teams used an aggressive, pressing defense, resulting in three turnovers each in the next two minutes before Mayenschein snuck behind the Mounders’ defense for a bucket, putting the Crickets up 25-19 at the half.
Solem canned a deuce from the top of the key for the first two Mounder points of the third quarter, but Mayenschein was unstoppable as she scored seven straight points on three buckets and a free throw. After falling behind by 14 points at 40-26, Sarah Winchester scored on a drive through the lane and Hayes canned a triple to bring them to within nine points at 40-31. Fall Creek again came right back with six points before Hayes ended the quarter with two free tosses, leaving her team down 46-33 heading into the final stanza.
Hayes and Winchester hit from behind the arc and Meindel scored on another fast break layup as the Mounders crept back to within eight points at 49-41, and yet again the Crickets answered, this time with five straight points. Solem and McVey showed off some fancy passing as they flew down court together, resulting in Solem scoring on McVey’s assist, and seconds later Solem was fouled while stealing the ball and sunk a couple of free tosses. Hayes scored again off an offensive rebound and with three minutes left, the Mounders were within striking distance, down 54-47. Fall Creek had a final run left however, then held the Mounders at bay to take the 10 point win.
“We knew this would be a tough matchup for us,” Elk Mound coach Jordan Kongshaug said. “Fall Creek played Regis (leaders of the Western Cloverbelt Conference) really tough and they have some talented girls. We chipped away at their lead but just couldn’t get over the hump. We took some good shots but the ball didn’t drop, especially in the third quarter. We need to finish those off if we want to stay in games,” he added.
Hayes led the Mounders with 24 points including a pair of triples and 6 for 6 shooting from the charity stripe while Meindel added 10 points.
FALL CREEK (62) Mayenschein 11-5-9-27, O. Burghardt 4-0-0-8, J. Wittwer 3-0-0-7, B. Burghardt 2-0-0-4, S. McInnis 2-0-0-4, W. Folkers 2-0-0-4, S. Hohlfelder 2-0-1-4, H. Buchholz 1-0-0-2, C. Buch 1-0-0-2
ELK MOUND (52) Hayes 8-6-6-24, Meindel 5-0-4-10, Solem 2-3-4-7, Winchester 3-0-0-7, McVey 1-2-5-4
THREE POINTERS: Hayes 2, Winchester 1, Wittwer 1
With the Mounders having three conference losses with one of them coming from the Hilltoppers in an overtime game back in December, the game was expected to be a close one. Glenwood City had just four losses in conference play but Elk Mound may have taken exception to that earlier loss as they came out roaring with a 16 point first quarter while holding the Toppers to just five. Twelve of the Mounders points came from long range as Solem canned a pair of triples and Josie Hayes and Meindel each added one.
The Toppers used a pair of their own treys to outscore the Mounders 12-11 in the second quarter but Elk Mound still held a 10 point advantage at the half, 27-17.
Sixteen was the lucky number of the night for the Mounders as they came up with another 16 point quarter with Emma Hayes leading the way by putting in three deuces while Solem canned two more shots from close range to help them take a commanding 16 point lead into the final quarter at 43-27.
Solem hit a couple of free tosses in the fourth quarter to finish with a season high 12 points and Josie Hayes added a pair of buckets along with one from Meindel and two free throws by McVey, giving them a comfortable lead and the eventual win.
“I was pleased with our defensive effort,” Kongshaug said. “But we need to work on taking care of the ball more consistently.”
Meindel and Josie Hayes kept up their scoring trends as Meindel led the team with 16 points and Hayes added 13. Emma Hayes finished with a season high eight points in the win and the team was a perfect 7 of 7 from the foul line.
ELK MOUND (53) Meindel 6-3-3-16, J. Hayes 6-0-0-13, Solem 4-2-2-12, E. Hayes 4-0-0-8, McVey 1-2-2-4
GLENWOOD CITY (39) M. Kadinger 6-0-2-12, Kr. Knops 3-0-0-7, J. Kopacz 3-0-0-7, Ke. Knops 3-0-0-7, O. Weidling 1-2-6-4, J. Ullom 1-0-0-2
THREE POINTERS: Solem 2, J. Hayes 1, Meindel 1, Kr. Knops 1, Kopacz 1, Ke. Knops 1