It was a couple of awfully tough battles but in the end the Colfax girl’s basketball team came out on top in both a sectional semi-final game over the state ranked Cameron Comets 61-40 March 7 in Amery, then just two days later punched their ticket to the WIAA state tournament in Green Bay with a much closer 42-34 win over the Colby Hornets.
Defense, free throws and the ability to hit some key three pointers was the difference in the win over the taller and very physical Hornets. Colby began the night with a record of 19-6 with two of those losses coming from defending Division 3 state champion Neillsville and they were 13-5 in the highly competitive Cloverbelt East, finishing third behind Neillsville and Owen-Withee. And they were just coming off a 36-30 win over Marathon.
Hannah Hover picked a swell time to score her season high of 15 points for the Vikings including all five of the team’s points in the first quarter. Hover knocked down a pair of free throws for a 2-0 lead but the Hornets came up with six straight points of their own before Hover nailed a triple. But one of those tall, physical Colby players, Sarah Gamillo hit a long deuce and the Vikings were down 8-5 at the end of the first quarter.
Colfax disposed of the butterflies they seemed to have in their stomachs to start the contest and went on their own run of five points on a free toss by Braanna Steen, who then scored one of the few buckets from the paint on the night for the Vikings to knot things up at 8-8. Mallie Doucette connected from three point land after a Colby basket and Hover added her second trey after the Vikings grabbed an offensive rebound. Doucette then canned a pair of free throws for a 16-11 Colfax lead. The Hornets kept driving to the hoop and scored their final two baskets of the quarter from close range while Hover hit two free throws and Doucette scored on a twisting, spinning layup to put the Vikings up 20-15 at the break.
“We were not as relaxed as we had been in other tournament games,” coach Joe Doucette said. “Hannah was great and her toughness and body language kept us in the game early on.”
After two different Vikings each missed a three pointer to start the third quarter, Dannielle Dachel finally put one down, but Colby’s Micaela Haas came up with five points on two baskets and a free throw to cut the Viking’s lead to 23-20. Hover snuck underneath for an offensive rebound and put the ball in the hoop and that was countered by the Hornet’s Lisa Horacek. In between those shots, Colfax forward Ryleigh Prochnow picked up her third foul and took a seat on the bench with just under two minutes left in the stanza. Haas cut the Colfax lead to a single point with another close range shot, but Steen scored from underneath and added a free toss, and after Colby threw up an air ball on a three point attempt, Alexis Rudi took a pass from Dannielle Dachel and canned perhaps her biggest three pointer of the season from the left corner with 3.0 on the clock for a 31-24 Vikings lead.
After Colfax forced yet another Hornet turnover to start the final quarter, Rudi continued where she left off, but this time she blew past a Colby defender on the baseline for a layup. Horacek hit a deuce for the Hornets and the team picked up their defense by forcing back to back turnovers by the Vikings around mid-court. But the Colfax defense has been keeping them in games all season and they continued to do so as they didn’t allow Colby to score for the next two minutes. Then things got a little sticky after Doucette canned two freebies, as Colby came up with four points to cut the Colfax lead to 35-30 with 2:10 left in the game.
The Vikings had been playing a spread offense most of the second half, trying to pull the Hornets out of their zone defense and also using up valuable minutes on the clock, and they continued to do so in the final minutes. Colby was forced to foul which played right into coach Doucette’s hands as daughter Mallie went to the line twice and was 4 for 4 and Hover also stepped up to the line and hit 3 of 4, including the final point in the win.
“It was a great win even though we struggled on the offensive side,” coach Doucette said. “Those five points by Alexis were huge and might have won the game for us.We battled hard on defense and kept them off the boards.Colby had 13 offensive rebounds against Marathon and only three against us. Everytime we needed someone to get something done, we got it done. Mallie and Hannah were great from the free throw line at the end to finish things off. Our fans were great and we probably don’t win without their great support,” he added.
Hover was 7 for 8 at the foul line with a pair of triples and a deuce making her the top scorer of the evening. Mallie Doucette finished with 13 points which included 8 for 8 at the charity stripe. The Vikings overall hit 17 of 22 free throws while the Hornets were just 4 of 11.
Colfax will play at the Green Bay Resch Center Thursday, March 14 at 8:15 against The Prairie School out of Racine. The Hawks are a private school that won the Metro Classic Conference with a 15-2 record and are 24-2 overall. Their leading scorer, junior guard Gaby Ortiz averages 20 points a game and has numerous Division 1 college scholarship offers already.
COLFAX (42) Hover 3-7-8-15, Doucette 2-8-8-13, Steen 2-2-4-6, Rudi 2-0-0-5, Dachel 1-0-2-3
COLBY (34) Gamillo 5-1-2-11, Horacek 4-2-2-10, Haas 4-1-3-9, T. Lynn 1-0-2-2, N. Reis 1-0-0-2
THREE POINTERS: Hover 2, Doucette 1, Rudi 1, Dachel 1
In a match up fans had been looking forward to after the sectional brackets came out, the Vikings took on a Cameron team that started the game with a 21-3 record and had been ranked as high as number five in Division 4 in various polls this year. Starting four sophomores, the Comets were led all season by one of them, Chloe Wanink who averaged almost 20 points agame this season. But Wanink and her fellow teammates hadn’t seen the likes of a Colfax defense that not only held her to four points, but held the whole Comet’s team to their lowest point total of the season.
Prochnow, who had the dubious honor of guarding Wanink most of the game along with some backup by Rudi, drained a triple to start the Colfax scoring and from there on out, Cameron was playing catch-up the rest of the game. Doucette canned her own trey, Prochnow scored on a baseline drive, Doucette added a pair of free tosses and Rudi zipped a pass under the hoop to Taylor Shipman who dropped it in for a 12-8 Colfax lead after a quarter of play.
After a Prochnow put back, Dachel knocked down a three ball from the top of the circle for a 17-8 lead and the lead was built to 12 points late in the quarter at 28-16 in part by three buckets by Steen. A buzzer beating three pointer by Cameron’s McKenna Sevals cut the Viking’s lead to 28-19 at the intermission.
Colfax used their patient offense techniques and controlled the pace, looking for open players to score in the second half. Doucette was a little too aggressive on the defensive end and went to the bench after picking up her second and third fouls in a span of 10 seconds partway through the third quarter. She immediately made her presence know when she came back in a minute later when she sent a cross court pass to Steen who connected from behind the arc for a 36-22 Colfax lead. The Viking’s dominated the defensive boards and allowed the Comets just a single shot on five of their nine possessions in the quarter, and the quarter ended when Dachel assisted Steen on another three ball for a 43-22 lead.
The Comets came up with six quick points, prompting coach Doucette to call a time out. Mallie Doucette then did a pretty good imitation of Aaron Rodgers when she threw the ball from under her own basket all the way down court to an open Prochnow who scored on a layup. Doucette followed up with a steal and her own trip down court for a layup, and after the Comets committed their seventh team foul with 5:52 left, the Viking’s wore out the free throw line as they were there eight times. Hover was there twice and hit 4 of 4, Steen went 3 for 4, Doucette, after hitting 1 of 2 at the beginning of the quarter, came back to connect on 5 of 6 and Dachel was 1 for 2. The Comets were at the charity stripe a few times themselves and they were 8 for 12 in the quarter.
“Cameron was a scary team coming in and we knew they had a chance to be very powerful offensively with their great athletes,” coach Doucette said. “We again were very good defensively and we thought if we could hold their top three scorers to 32-33 points we had a chance to win. We ended up holding those three to 20 points total. Ryleigh and Alexis did a great job on Wanink, Taylor was fantastic tonight, Braanna is very confident right now and Danielle was huge with key shots and her ability to handle the ball against a tough defender.We had a ton of respect for Cameron after seeing what they did against a very good Elk Mound team,” he added.
Steen led the Vikings with 18 points, Doucette added 13 and Prochnow 11. the team was 20 of 30 from the foul line while Cameron was 11 for 17.
COLFAX (61) Steen 6-4-9-18, Doucette 2-8-10-13, Prochnow 5-0-0-11, Dachel 3-1-4-8, Hover 1-5-5-7, Shipman 1-2-2-4
CAMERON (40) M. Otto 6-1-2-13, A. Bayer 4-4-5-12, Wanink 1-2-2-4, H. Bailey 1-1-3-3, Sevals 1-0-0-3, H. Winiarczyk 0-3-4-3
THREE POINTERS: Steen 2, Doucette 1, Dachel 1, Prochnow 1, Sevals 1