With just one more conference game left on the schedule for both teams, both the Elk Mound and Colfax boys’ basketball teams knew their second and final matchup of the season was significant in many respects. Elk Mound entered the game with a 14-0 conference record with a game against Boyceville left, a team they beat by 41 points earlier in the season.
The Vikings had a sour taste in their mouth after losing to Mondovi in their previous game and needed to get some momentum on their side as they begin playoffs Tuesday night against Glenwood City whom they lost to a couple of weeks ago. And let’s face it, with players from Colfax and Elk Mound playing against each other since grade school, both teams wanted to plain out win the game. Although Colfax stayed with the Mounders through three quarters, Elk Mound finally pulled away for a 58-48 win.
With eight seniors on the team including all five starters, Elk Mound is tied for second in the AP rankings in Division 3 right now. Colfax has just one senior, Ethin Kiekhafer, a four year starter, and had their starting point guard Jeremiah Wait on the bench with a knee injury. It wasn’t a pretty game for either team, as both Elk Mound coach Chris Hahn and Colfax coach Garrett Maas will attest to but there was plenty of action along with plenty of mistakes by both teams throughout the game.
Travis Nelson and Hunter Kohls gave the Mounders a 6-0 lead on three point shots before Kiekhafer cut the lead in half with one of his own. Logan Strom hit a pair of free throws and big man Dexter Curry scored in the post to up the Mounders lead to 10-3 but Grant Phillips scored on a drive and free throw to get Colfax back to within four points. Nelson again showed his keen eye from outside with another triple, and a deuce by Curry made it 15-6. Phillips found Sawyer DeMoe open under the basket for two points and a Jared Rudi trey cut the Mounders lead to 15-11. Kedar Davis, who saw significant playing time with Wait on the bench, zipped a pass to DeMoe for another bucket but the Mounders held a 15-13 lead after the first quarter.
Colfax used a deliberate style of offense as they looked for an open shot against the well known 1-3-1-zone defense employed by the Mounders all season. It seemed to work at times and led to some foul trouble on the over anxious Mounders part as Curry was called for his third partway through the second quarter. DeMoe knotted the score off a Rudi assist and with 6:48 to go in the half, Elk Mound picked up their seventh team foul. Phillips hit two freebies for a 17-15 Colfax lead, Curry tied it again with a hook shot then put his team up with another shot from close range. Kiekhafer drilled another trey to put the Vikings back up momentarily but Zac Doll regained the lead for the Mounders with two free tosses. That lead didn’t last long either as Kiekhafer was on a roll, knocking down another triple for a 23-21 lead. Curry went to the charity stripe on two straight possessions, the first after DeMoe committed his third foul, and hit one of two both times to knot the score again. Curry’s third foul came a minute later allowing Ben Kragness to hit a pair of free throws but that was countered by a Doll put back for another tie score. After the Mounders were called for their tenth team foul, Phillips connected on two more freebies and a shot from Kohls tied it for the fifth time in the quarter, then Phillips calmly put in two more free throws before Kohls scored on a buzzer beating put back for a 29-29 game at the break.
“Our goal was to attack their zone and not sit back and let them attack us,” Maas said. “We managed to get to the free throw line and hit some shots to keep us in the game.”
Doll scored on a put back and on a short jumper to open the third quarter for a 33-29 Mounder lead, but after Kiekhafer was fouled on a three point attempt, he canned all three freebies to cut the Elk Mound lead to one. After both teams missed from behind the arc, Curry was called for a charge, which was his fourth foul, sending him to keep the bench warm for the rest of the quarter. The Vikings couldn’t take advantage of his absence however, as the Mounder defense stepped up and used a double team to keep trapping the Vikings and not allowing them to find open players. Austin Hanson hit a couple of free throws for Elk Mound, Kiekhafer connected on yet another triple but 15 seconds later, Doll countered with his own for a 39-34 lead. Doll scored on another drive to increase the Mounder lead to seven, but Kiekhafer wasn’t done yet as he launched another shot from way downtown to cut the deficit to 41-37. Two straight turnovers by Colfax gave Elk Mound the ball with a minute left and the players seemed to be having a tea party as they watched the clock wind down. The Vikings must have been lulled to sleep as Hanson slid under the basket and scored with two seconds left for a 43-37 Mounder lead.
Nelson and Kiekhafer who had been battling each other all night, traded triples to open the final quarter but a Nelson free throw and break away layup from Doll gave Elk Mound a 49-40 lead. Colfax went on a dry spell offensively as they missed the hoop on three straight possessions, getting three shots on one of them, and committed their seventh team foul with 2:53 left in the game. Adam Gottschalk knocked down four free tosses and Doll three more, allowing the Mounders to pull away with the win.
“I think we were a little gassed at the end, playing with pretty much six players,” coach Maas said. “But I think we gave them a pretty good battle and just came up short.”
Hahn was pleased with the leadership shown by his seniors in one of the few close games his team had this season.
“I think it was good for us to be in a close game late in the season,” he said. “Colfax has some very talented players and were a real challenge for us. But our seniors didn’t panic and they continued to help each other out and pick each other up. Kiekhafer was a force tonight and I am glad we won’t have to face him anymore,” he said with a laugh.
Three Mounders finished in double figures in the scoring column with Doll leading the way with 16 points, Curry tacked on 12 and Nelson 11. Kiekhafer led all scorers with 22 points. Elk Mound connected on 19 of 30 free throws while Colfax was 14 for 19.
ELK MOUND (58) Doll 5-5-9-16, Curry 5-2-4-12, Nelson 3-2-4-11, Kohls 3-1-2-8, Hanson 1-3-5-5, D. Lew 0-2-2-2, Gottschalk 0-2-2-2, Strom 0-2-2-2
COLFAX (48) Kiekhafer 7-3-5-22, Phillips 1-7-7-9, DeMoe 4-0-2-8, Rudi 2-0-0-5, Davis 0-2-2-2, Kragness 0-2-3-2
THREE POINTERS: Kiekhafer 5, Nelson 3, Doll 1, Kohls 1, Rudi 1