Playing four games in five days (a player’s dream and a coach’s nightmare as the saying goes), the Colfax boys displayed their endurance early in the week with a 59-24 win on the road against Flambeau Monday Feb. 3, overcame a slow start to take a 59-31 conference win at home over St. Croix Central Tuesday night, posted some revenge against Spring Valley with a 56-44 win, again at home Thursday night, then just ran out of gas as they lost in overtime at home to Glenwood City 69-62 in a Friday night contest. Colfax senior Ethin Kiekhafer reached a career milestone when he scored his 1,000 point during the SCC game, making him just the fifth player in Vikings’ history to reach the mark. With the addition of 33 points in the Spring Valley and Glenwood City games, he now has 1,033 and is third on the list ahead of Tom Wahl (1,005) and Lewis Mau (1006). Justin Wittrock is second (1,147) while Ken Obermueller is the all time leader (1,347) set during the 1967-71 season.
The Falcons were sitting on top of the East Lakeland Conference with just two losses but making the long trip on a Monday night for a make up game, the Vikings took care of business early as Sawyer DeMoe was unstoppable in the lane with six buckets in the first quarter alone. Combine that with a pair of triples from Jared Rudi and a deuce from Ben Kragness and Colfax had a 20-8 lead after eight minutes of play. Rudi, DeMoe, Grant Phillips and Kiekhafer all added a second quarter bucket and Kiekhafer tacked on two free throws while the Colfax defense held the Falcons to seven points for a 31-15 halftime lead. DeMoe went back to work and knocked down four more shots from close range and a free toss in the third quarter to finish off his scoring for the night with 23 points as the Vikings held a 49-20 lead after three. Andrew Harmon and Brett Prince scored their first varsity points as Harmon hit a deuce and Prince a triple to finish the game off with the lop sided win.
“Flambeau has a pretty good conference record but we had a lot more weapons than they did,” Colfax coach Garrett Maas said.”We came out shooting very well and played a solid defense.”
COLFAX (59) DeMoe 11-1-1-23, Kiekhafer 4-3-3-12, Rudi 4-0-0-11, Phillips 2-0-0-4, Prince 1-0-0-3, Harmon 1-0-0-2, Kragness 1-0-0-2, J. Wait 0-1-4-1, K. Davis 0-1-2-1
FLAMBEAU (24) P. Dernovsek 3-1-2-8, C. Groothousen 2-1-2-5, J. Groothousen 2-0-0-4, A. Stout 1-0-0-3, P. Groothousen 1-0-0-2
THREE POINTERS: Rudi 3, Prince 1, Kiekhafer 1, Dernovsek 1, Stout 1
St. Croix Central
A little bus lag from the Flambeau trip must have set in as Colfax committed four turnovers and had two of their shots blocked in the first quarter. Three of the turnovers were direct passes to the boys in blue but luckily, the Panthers were only able to capitalize on a couple of the mistakes. Central held a 5-2 lead before buckets by Kiekhafer, DeMoe, Kiekhafer again and two by Phillips put the Vikings up 12-5. Central got back to within a point at 13-12 but Kiekhafer hit a short jumper and Rudi drove end to end after a steal for a layup and a 17-12 lead.
The Panthers tried to use a full court press to slow Colfax down but that only resulted in a lot of layup attempts and open shots as the Vikings utilized their speed and ball handling skills to produce points, including seven from Kiekhafer. Add that to a height advantage which allowed DeMoe to hit three times in the paint and the Vikings were out to a 31-17 halftime lead.
Kiekhafer’s triple with 1:03 left in the third quarter put Colfax up by 20 at 43-23 and his end to end layup a few seconds later upped the lead even more. Moving into the final eight minutes of play, Kiekhafer was still on fire as he knocked down two more treys with a DeMoe put back in between. After a 10 minute delay to clean up the floor when a Central player had a bloody nose, Kiekhafer took the ball and drove the baseline for points number 999 and 1,000 for a 57-29 Viking lead, and Harmon ended the Colfax scoring with a bucket from close range.
“Central has improved since we played them earlier in the season,” Maas said. “We managed to break their press most of the game and had some easy baskets off of it.”
COLFAX (59) Kiekhafer 10-3-3-27, DeMoe 7-3-10-17, Phillips 2-1-2-5, Rudi 1-2-2-4, Kragness 1-2-2-4, Harmon 1-0-0-2
ST. CROIX CENTRAL (31) D. Cottrell 3-1-1-7, D. Holland 2-1-2-5, E. Nielsen 2-0-0-5, J. Freyholtz 2-0-0-4, T. Anderson 1-1-2-4, J. Spaeth 2-0-0-4, J. Matteson 1-0-0-2
THREE POINTERS: Kiekhafer 4, Nielsen 1, Anderson 1
Just two weeks ago, the Vikings were handed a disappointing loss in overtime to the Cardinals on Spring Valley’s home court. Playing at 6:00 before the girls’ varsity game after it was rescheduled twice already, Colfax struggled early for the second game in a row as they held a slim 12-10 advantage after a quarter of play. DeMoe knocked down three shots from the paint, Kiekhafer added on to his career point total with a triple and a deuce and Kragness hit a free throw. Knowing the key to winning against Spring Valley is holding their sharp shooter Zac Webster under his 17 point average, the Colfax defense held him at bay with four points in each of the first two quarters while the Vikings added 17 more points in the second stanza for a 29-15 lead at the intermission. The final basket came off a phenomenal defensive play as Andy Larson saved the ball from going out of bounds on a missed shot by a teammate, and in mid air tossed it into DeMoe under the basket who dropped the ball in at the buzzer.
The Cardinals cut the Colfax lead to nine with a quick trey from Ben Becker and a Webster steal and layup to open the third quarter but Rudi broke the run with his own swipe and end to end bucket. The action became fast and furious for the next few minutes with several turnovers by both teams but eventually things slowed down, resulting in Kragness and DeMoe knocking down a pair of free tosses each. A Phillips shot from under the hoop, another long ball from Kiekhafer, a couple of freebies by Phillips and another buzzer beating shot, this time by Kragness on a drive and dish off from Jeremiah Wait ended the third with Colfax up 44-27.
Webster went on a tear in the final quarter, scoring 14 of the Cardinals 17 points but the Vikings knocked down 7 of 10 free throws to maintain at least a 10 point lead the rest of the way. Wait went to the charity stripe four times and hit 4 of 6 while Phillips hit a pair and Rudi one more.
“We shut Webster down early on but he is a great player,” Maas said. “The big lead always helps and we were able to play pretty well on both ends of the court. It was a nice win after losing to them the first time.”
Kiekhafer led the Vikings with 16 points and DeMoe added 14. Webster finished with 28 of his team’s points in the game. The Vikings were 14-19 at the foul line while Spring Valley was 3 for 7.
COLFAX (56) Kiekhafer 6-0-0-16, DeMoe 6-2-3-14, Kragness 2-3-4-9, Wait 2-4-6-8, Phillips 1-4-4-6, Rudi 1-1-2-3
SPRING VALLEY (44) Webster 11-1-2-28, Becker 2-0-0-6, L. Olson 1-1-2-4, Jo. Helmer 1-1-2-3, S. Borgerding 1-1-2-3
THREE POINTERS: Kiekhafer 4, Becker 2, Webster 2, Olson 1
Starting off the game with a 10-0 run made it look like the Vikings had plenty of bounce left in their step after the three straight wins. But first year Hilltopper coach Tristan Kittilson calmed his team down and they began to peck away at the deficit. Colfax led 13-3 on a Kiekhafer jumper and free throw at the end of the first quarter and kept the lead at eight at 22-14 on back to back buckets by DeMoe midway through the second stanza. The Toppers went on a five point run, taking advantage of five missed shots by Colfax, two from under the basket and the Vikings led just 22-19 at the break.
Everyone knows the Hilltoppers have plenty of good athletes as displayed by their two straight appearances in the state football championship game, and they have managed to turn those football skills into basketball skills as of late. Colfax had defeated them back in December, 54-47 but Glenwood came out in the second half of this game prepared to battle. After Richard Ross knotted the score on a triple, the teams went back and forth for the next few minutes before Glenwood took a 33-28 lead. Phillips scored on a put back and Kragness added a pair of close range shots to cut the deficit to 36-34 but a Topper deuce put them up 38-34 heading into the final quarter.
Wait found an open Kiekhafer for two points and DeMoe scored on a reverse lay up but both baskets were countered by Glenwood as they found big openings in the lane. A Wait trey brought Colfax to within 43-42 with 5:45 left but Todd Petersen countered with a lay up, then Phillips scored on a fast break deuce. And yet again, Glenwood responded with a Marcus Kadinger basket. With one minute left in the game, the Vikings committed their seventh team foul, sending Petersen to the line. He hit both freebies for a 49-45 Topper lead, but 15 seconds later, Rudi found DeMoe in the lane for a bucket. He was fouled on the play and with the free throw, Colfax was down 49-48. Petersen hit one of two free tosses but with 10 seconds left, Kiekhafer fought his way through the lane for a reverse lay up to tie it at 50-50. Glenwood missed a final shot and the game went into overtime.
It was all Glenwood from there as they scored the first nine points on a triple and five free throws, and although the Vikings tried to scratch their way back as Kiekhafer came up with eight points, the Toppers knocked down nine more free throws to take the win.
“We stressed to the kids all week that Glenwood was a good team,” Maas said. “The four games may have taken a toll on us but we have to find ways to overcome that. Glenwood made some good adjustments on defense and it caused us to miss a lot of easy shots. We need to be able to finish better under the basket and keep moving on defense as the regular season winds down,” he added.
DeMoe hit his season average of 17 to lead Colfax in scoring while Kiekhafer also had 17, one over his average. Petersen finished with 20 for the Toppers and Kadinger added 18. Glenwood City canned 21 of 29 free throws and connected on eight triples while Colfax was 4 of 9 from the charity stripe with three treys.
GLENWOOD CITY (69) Petersen 6-8-11-20, Kadinger 5-5-6-18, Mrdutt 4-2-4-12, Ross 3-0-0-8, J. Hierlmeier 0-6-7-6, K. Wallace 2-0-1-5
COLFAX (62) DeMoe 8-1-3-17, Kiekhafer 7-1-1-17, Wait 2-3-4-8, Phillips 2-4-6-8, Kragness 3-0-0-6, Rudi 2-0-0-4
THREE POINTERS: Kadinger 3, Kiekhafer 2, Mrdutt 2, Ross 2, Wait 1, Wallace 1