ELK MOUND — Fans, players and coaches all knew the conference title was already in the hands of the Elk Mound team when the Colfax boys entered the Mounders’ completely full gym last Friday night.
But for both teams, there was still plenty to play for. The Mounders were undefeated, not only in conference play at 15-0 with just a make-up game against Plum City left, they were 21-0 and looking to carry that momentum over into the playoffs.
The Vikings were coming off an overtime loss to Mondovi, and were still looking for some right combinations on the court. Colfax needed to get back on the winning track as it ended its regular season and looked to begin regional play.
In the end, it was the Mounders who prevailed in a 57-40 win.
Nick Heit pretty much put the Vikings on their heels early on as he knocked down not just a couple of three point shots, but five — count em’ — five triples in the first quarter, accounting for 21 of his team’s points.
After Heit canned his first one, just 30 seconds into the game, the Vikings’ Ethin Kiekhafer countered it for a 3-3 tie and Sawyer DeMoe put Colfax up with a bucket.
Zac Doll knotted the score again with a pair of free tosses and Kiekhafer scored on a drive through the lane.
Heit put his team back up 8-7 with his second trey but DeMoe hit a short jumper and it looked like it was going to be one of those back and forth deals all night long.
Then Doll’s drive and two more long balls from Heit put Elk Mound up 16-9 before Kiekhafer drained another trey. Heit immediately canned his fifth shot from long range and after a Colfax turnover, the Mounders controlled the ball with a minute to go.
After missing a final shot, it appeared the quarter would end with them holding a seven point lead, but a foul called on the Vikings sent Ryan Bridges to the line with all zeros on the clock. Bridges hit a pair of freebies and Elk Mound held a 21-12 lead.
They increased that lead rather quickly as their aggressive defense forced a bunch of turnovers by the Vikings as Bridges came up with a steal and a layup, then Doll scored on another layup by an assist from Dakota Tarnow after he swiped the ball for a 25-12 advantage.
Colfax got back to within 11 points on a Cody Zivcic free toss and a deuce and free throw from DeMoe, then Tarnow and Kiekhafer traded triples. DeMoe’s jumper cut the Mounder lead to nine points, but three empty possessions on the Vikings’ part combined with seven points from Travis Nelson on four free throws with a trey in the middle put Elk Mound up 37-21.
Nelson did his part on the defensive end, too, as he stole the ball which led to a Doll three pointer, and again with just a couple of seconds on the clock, a Colfax foul led to Bridges hitting one of two free throws and Elk Mound took a 41-21 lead into the break.
“Elk Mound shot the ball extremely well,” Colfax coach Andy Meade said. “They will beat everybody if they can shoot like that. Heit worked hard for his shots and we didn’t give him a lot of room, but he knocked them down. This is not a good team to try and come back on. We cut their lead down but had some mistakes and couldn’t get past that nine point deficit.”
Colfax post player Lane Olson scored from the lane early in the third quarter but Heit hit another triple from way beyond the circle for a 21-point lead.
Olson and Zivcic crashed the boards and both scored on put backs before Heit added his seventh trey of the evening, then Zivcic nailed his first trey and Jarrod Rudi added a bucket from close range to cut the Mounders lead to 47-32.
Zivcic, now finding his groove banged in another three pointer and Colfax was down by just 12.
And yet again, those last few seconds were a problem – for the Vikings, anyway, as someone lost track of Doll as he slipped under the basket for an easy bucket to end the third quarter with his team up 49-35.
The teams combined for seven empty possessions before Olson hit a short jumper and added a free throw a minute later to get the Vikings back to within 11 points.
Doll missed a three-point attempt, but followed his shot and sliced through the lane to get his own rebound and put the ball right in the hoop.
After Olson was called for his fourth foul trying to snare an offensive board with 2:35 left, the Mounders simply had to take control of the ball. Colfax was forced to foul and the game was over for all practical purposes when Elk Mound coach Chris Hahn made sure the ball was in good hands when the fouls occurred. Heading to the free throw line, Doll connected on 4 of 4 and Heit went 2 for 2 to finish off the win for the Mounders.
“We probably played our best half of basketball in the first half tonight and Colfax probably played their worst half, so you have to put that in perspective a little,” coach Hahn said.
“Our game plan doesn’t change a whole lot from game to game.We just want to play hard on defense, look for the good shot and try to rebound well. Obviously, when we hit our shots early, it made it harder for them to come back on us. Nick had just a tremendous game but the other players all did their job, especially on defense. Colfax is a good team, they are the defending regional and sectional champions and they always play hard. Our guys work hard everyday in practice and they knew what they had to do to win this game and they did those things. We achieved our goal of winning the conference but now we want to move on and get further in the playoffs,” he added.
Colfax outscored the Mounders in the second half and had the advantage in the rebounding department 33-20 in the game as Olson led the way with 11.
But Elk Mound committed just two turnovers while forcing 18 by the Vikings and they shot a phenomenal 93% from the charity stripe hitting 15 of 16.
Heit led the Mounders with 23 points while Doll (who didn’t play in the first game against Colfax) added 19. Zivcic and Kiekhafer both scored 11 points for Colfax.
Elk Mound earned the number one seed in the regional and will host the winner of Spring Valley-Eau Claire Regis, while Colfax, the number two seed, will host the winner of Stanley/Boyd-Cadott. Both games are Friday, Feb. 22 at 7:00.
ELK MOUND (57) Heit 7-2-2-23, Doll 6-6-6-19, Nelson 1-4-4-7, Bridges 1-3-4-5, Tarnow 1-0-0-3
COLFAX (40) Zivcic 3-3-4-11, Kiekhafer 4-0-0-11, DeMoe 4-1-1-9, Olson 3-1-2-7, Rudi 1-0-0-2
THREE POINTERS: Heit 7, Kiekhafer 3, Zivcic 2, Doll 1, Nelson 1, Tarnow 1
Elk Mound at Plum City
In a game rescheduled for the third time, the Mounders put the finishing touches on their perfect season by pounding Plum City 69-28 on the Blue Devils’ home court just 24 hours after their win over the Vikings.
Coach Hahn wasn’t sure if his players would be focused and ready to play after the emotional victory the night before, but any of those thoughts disappeared quickly as his team took a 20-7 lead after the first quarter and had the game put away at the break 41-12.
“We moved the ball well tonight and had a lot of players get involved,” Hahn said. “The boys realize they need to play with a purpose everytime we are on the floor and they did that tonight,” he added.
Logan Strom was the team leader in points with 14 for the Mounders while Doll added nine. The team finished 7 for 13 from the foul line.
ELK MOUND (69) Strom 6-1-2-14, Doll 4-0-0-9, Heit 2-2-2-8, Bridges 2-4-6-8, D. Curry 4-0-1-8, H. Dicus 3-0-0-6, A. Hanson 3-0-0-6, H. Kohls 2-0-0-5, Nelson 1-0-0-3, J. Wol -0-2-2
PLUM CITY (28) T. Nieber 2-1-2-7, A. Boyer 2-0-0-5, N. Gilles 2-0-0-5, C. Longsdorf 2-2-2-5, K. Erickson 2-0-0-4, A. Goss 1-0-0-2
THREE POINTERS: Heit 2, Nieber 2, Doll 1, Kohls 1, Nelson 1, Strom 1, Boyer 1, Gilles 1, Longsdorf 1