ELK MOUND — Everyone knew the Eau Claire Regis boys had been playing some pretty good basketball when they entered the Elk Mound gym for a second round regional contest Feb. 22. The Ramblers had a pair of hot three point shooters and a pretty strong post player, and the Mounders had all they could handle as they were forced to come from behind by eight points at the half before pulling out a 34-31 win.
Elk Mound found themselves in a hole as they were down 9-0 before Travis Nelson did what he does best as he nailed a triple to put the Mounders on the scoreboard at the 1:45 mark of the first quarter. Regis upped the lead to 12-3 at the start of the second stanza before the Mounder’s Dexter Curry and the Ramblers Nick Stanke traded baskets. After Ryan Bridges hit a short range shot, Elk Mound was down just 15-7 but Regis continued to add points and increased their lead to 19-10. Hunter Dicus, Curry and Zac Doll managed to each knock down a deuce for the Mounders but Billy Wampler, one of those three point specialists for the Ramblers hit one and added a deuce with 10 seconds on the clock for a 24-16 Regis lead at the intermission.
Elk Mound coach Chris Hahn has been able to make adjustments at halftime all season, which is one of the reasons his team is undefeated. After combining for 16 treys in their two previous games, they were just 1 for 9 in the first half of this one. They opened the third quarter with a nine point run without a three point basket and finally took a 25-24 lead on a pair of Nick Heit free throws. The lead changed three more times in the last two minutes however and the Mounders found themselves behind 27-26 heading into the final eight minutes.
Heit knotted the score at 29-29 with just over four minutes left but again Regis countered on a Wampler bucket. Heit then came up with his biggest shot of the game as he drained a trey to put his team up 32-31 with 1:40 left in the game. The Mounder’s stellar defense came up even bigger as they forced a Regis turnover and Dakota Tarnow gave his team some breathing room with a pair of free throws. Regis couldn’t score in the final 17 seconds and Elk Mound fans and coaches could finally let that breath out they had been holding in.
“Regis played very patiently on offense tonight and they shot the ball very well early on,” coach Hahn said. “We were a bit nervous and didn’t play a very good first half offensively ourselves. But we were able to withstand a big run by them because our defense played tremendously in the second half. I was proud of our effort tonight.”
Eight players scored for the Mounders as Heit and Curry both had seven points. Wampler led the Ramblers with 16.
ELK MOUND (34) Heit 2-2-27, Curry 3-1-2-7, Doll 3-0-0-6, A. Hanson 2-0-0-4, Nelson 1-0-0-3, Dicus 1-1-2-3, Tarnow 0-2-2-2, Bridges 1-0-0-2
EAU CLAIRE REGIS (31) Wampler 7-0-0-16, L. Rorsheib 3-0-0-8, N. Stanke 2-3-5-7
THREE POINTERS: Wampler 2, Rorsheib 2, Heit 1, Nelson 1