If the junior varsity game was any indication of how the varsity game was going to go, fans of both Colfax and Elk Mound were going to be in for a rather exciting night in the Mounders’ gym Feb. 21. With the JV game going into double overtime resulting in a 31-27 win for Elk Mound, the varsity game was every bit as exciting. After leading the game from the middle of the first quarter until the final seven seconds of the game, the Mounder girls couldn’t hang on to that lead and the Vikings overcame an 11 point deficit to pull out a 36-35 win.
“Fortunate” was the word used several times by Viking’s coach Joe Doucette after the battle. As in “fortunate” to win and “fortunate” Elk Mound missed some free throws late in the game.
“We had trouble all night offensively and did not shoot the ball well,” Doucette said. “But we hung in there defensively and never panicked or gave up. Elk Mound defended well and probably deserved to win. Hopefully we can learn from this as we go into tournaments.”
After beating the Mounders by 13 points earlier in the year, it appeared the Vikings might have an easy go this time when they jumped out to a 6-0 lead on a pair of Ryleigh Prochnow drives and two free throws from Hannah Hover. But the Mounders took control of the lane and went on an 11 point run as Sarah Winchester scored on a layup and a free toss, Kaysi Meindel drove to the hoop, McKenna McVey scored twice from underneath and Meindel added another bucket at the buzzer for an 11-6 Mounder lead at the end of a quarter of play.
Colfax climbed back to within a point twice before Josie Hayes drained the only triple of the game for either team, giving the Mounders an 18-14 lead. Colfax closed the gap on Dannielle Dachel’s second basket of the quarter and the Mounder defense did their job, forcing the Vikings into a turnover. McVey then came up big with a short jumper at the buzzer, allowing the Mounders to take a 20-16 lead into the break.
After Dachel scored on a pick and roll to get the Vikings within two points, the tide turned and things were looking pretty good for Elk Mound and pretty dismal for Colfax when the Mounders went on another long run, this time with nine straight points and pulled out to a 29-18 lead with 3:01 left in the third quarter. Hayes, the conference’s leading scorer collected seven of those points and Jamie Solem scored on a rather nifty reverse layup during the run.
The Vikings haven’t been behind many times this year and decided to pull up their bootstraps and started to peck away at the Mounders lead. They rattled off eight points as Hover and Taylor Shipman scored on offensive rebounds with Prochnow hit two close range shots in the middle of those, and Elk Mound found themselves holding a slim 29-26 lead heading into the final stanza.
Hover and Solem traded deuces and the Mounder defense continued to play solid as they kept the Vikings away from the basket for almost three minutes. But they were struggling themselves in the scoring department and with a 32-28 lead, they committed their seventh team foul when Hover drove the lane for a basket. Hover missed the free throw and the Vikings picked up their seventh team foul trying to grab the rebound, putting both teams in the bonus. Free throw shooting has been a thorn in the Mounders’ side most of the season as Hayes and Meindel both hit only the front end of a one and one to put the Mounders up 34-30 with 1:20 on the clock. Braanna Steen countered with one of two free tosses for Colfax and it was Solem’s turn at the charity stripe and she hit one of two freebies, keeping the Mounders’ lead at four points 35-31 with .41 left. Steen then put the ball in the hoop off an in bounds pass and after teammate Mallie Doucette fouled out, the Mounders couldn’t take advantage of it and came up empty on a pair of free throws. With 14 seconds left and the ball in the Vikings’ hands and down by a single point, coach Doucette called a timeout. He was forced to call another one as the Elk Mound defense wouldn’t allow Colfax to get the ball in and this time the ball ended up in Steen’s hands. She was fouled and with 7.2 left in the game she calmly hit both free throws to give the Vikings the lead, and it was their turn to play some defense as they didn’t allow the Mounders to get any kind of a decent shot off as the buzzer sounded.
“We played hard defensively but we needed to hit some free throws down the stretch and we didn’t,” Elk Mound coach Jordan Kongshaug said. “We were a very determined team tonight but we just couldn’t finish things off. We have it in us to be a good team and we want to be playing our best when we start regional play next week.”
The Mounders did something no team has managed to do all year-hold Mallie Doucette to a zero in the scorebook. Steen, who scored 22 points in the first go around against Elk Mound, led the Vikings again with 10 points this time. Hayes finished one point behind her average with 15 to lead the Mounders. Colfax went 8 for 16 from the free throw line and for the second time this season did not hit a three pointer. Elk Mound was 6 for 17 from the foul line for just 28%.
Colfax ended the regular season at 21-1 and went undefeated to win the conference at 16-0. They will begin regional play as the number one seed at home March 1 against the winner of the Stanley/Boyd-Unity game while Elk Mound, after a win in a make up game over Plum City Feb. 23, finished at 16-6 and 11-5 in conference play for third place. They earned a number three seed and will also play March 1, facing the winner of Spring Valley and Boyceville.
Colfax (36) Steen 2-6-9 10, Hover 3-2-3-8, Prochnow 4-0-0-8, Dachel 3-0-0-6, A. Rudi 1-0-0-2, C. Olson 1-0-0-2
Elk Mound (35) Hayes 6-2-3-15, Solem 2-2-4-6, McVey 3-0-4-6, Meindel 2-1-5-5, Winchester 1-1-1-3
Three Pointers: Hayes 1
Elk Mound-Plum City
The Mounder girls finished their regular season with a 44-37 win at Plum City in a make up game from Feb. 14.
Elk Mound held a 40-21 lead heading into the final quarter but the Blue Devils scored 16 straight points to make the final score closer. Josie Hayes finished with 18 points and her second straight conference scoring title, averaging almost 17 points a game. The team went 7 for 13 at the free throw line.