COLFAX — You would think when a team pulls out to a 16-3 lead to start off a game, it would turn out to be a runaway and fans could spend time discussing the extremely cold weather rather than focusing so much on the game. But that wasn’t the case when the Elk Mound boys invaded the Colfax gym Jan. 6 on a bitterly cold night as the Vikings let a big lead almost slip away before coming out with a 45-40 win over the Mounders.
Colfax led 6-0 with two Sawyer DeMoe buckets and a put back from Aliymu Davis before Mounder Brandon Bohl cut the lead in half with a three point shot. The Vikings then went on a 10 point run, starting with a Kedar Davis triple, a DeMoe shot from under the hoop, a fast break layup by Kedar Davis and his second trey for a 16-3 lead. Even though this is a young varsity team for Elk Mound coach Chris Hahn, the Mounders didn’t go away and after a time out, began chipping away at the Colfax lead.
“I told them to just keep playing their game,” Hahn said. “Colfax started off extremely hot and we just needed to keep working our game plan and make a few adjustments.”
The conversation paid dividends as the Mounders again cut the deficit in half on a bucket by Noah Zurbuchen and a deuce and free toss from Colin Svee. A half court shot at the buzzer by the Mounders spun out of the basket, leaving the score at 16-8 at the end of one quarter of play.
DeMoe had his way again in the paint, scoring on an offensive rebound, but the Mounders responded with a run of 12 points with Svee scoring from close range, Cole Tyman draining a triple, Alex Hollister hitting a shot and adding a free toss with it, Svee connecting on a free throw after the Vikings committed their seventh team foul with 5:03 left in the half, and Zurbuchen canned a trey to put the Mounders up 20-18. The Vikings struggled against the Mounder zone defense and had three turnovers, two under their own hoop, in the stretch while missing open shots twice. DeMoe finally put his team on back on track however, as he went strong to the hoop on two straight possessions, one from a slick pass from Kedar Davis, and Colfax was back up 22-20. Both teams had chances to tack on points in the last minute but nobody could find the hoop from long range as the Vikings missed once and turned the ball over, and the Mounders missed two long three point attempts in the last 10 seconds.
“We went away from our game plan and let Elk Mound get back in the game,” Colfax coach Garrett Maas said. “They made adjustments under the basket and we didn’t respond very well. We didn’t take care of the ball and took too many quick shots.”
Bohl hit a free throw to start the third stanza to cut the Mounder deficit to a point but Ben Kragness scored from the lane to make it 24-21. DeMoe added a bucket and on the next trip down court, hit a pair of free throws, and with a Kedar Davis free toss, Colfax had upped their lead to eight points at 29-21. Svee broke the run with a fast break layup, but Andrew Harmon scored from the paint and tacked on a free toss and a Jarrod Rudi free throw put the Colfax lead at 33-23. Both teams struggled getting the ball in the hoop for the next three minutes before Tyman slid through the back door for a deuce. It was the Mounders’ turn to commit fouls however, as their seventh one was called on them with 26 seconds left in the quarter, sending Kragness to the line. After hitting one of two, the score was 34-25 heading into the last eight minutes.
With both teams playing full court pressure defense most of the game, there were plenty of turnovers and missed opportunities to score easy points early in the final quarter. Tyman managed to connect from behind the arc to bring the Mounders within six points before DeMoe scored from the top of the key. Bohl added his own trey and DeMoe again responded by bulling through two Mounder defenders for a bucket. DeMoe then added a put back to move the lead back to nine at 40-31 but Svee scored on a short jumper and added a free toss with 2:56 left in the game. Although the Mounders were dealing with foul problems, they stepped up their defense, forcing the Vikings into giving up the ball on turnovers or by taking bad shots.
“We knew we had to force turnovers and get the ball out of their hands,” Hahn said. “Even though our defense picked up, our offense struggled and we couldn’t get the ball in the basket.”
Colfax was struggling offensively again but Kragness managed to hit a couple of free throws for a 42-34 lead. Svee, who had the hot hand at this time for the Mounders, canned a trey, leaving his team down 42-37 with 1:43 left. Single free throws by DeMoe and Kragness upped the lead to 44-37, and after Colfax missed a pair of free tosses which would have put the game away, the Mounders were way off target on a couple of three point attempts. Rudi tacked on a free throw for the Vikings and Svee ended the Elk Mound scoring with another triple at the buzzer, ending the game with the five point Colfax win.
“We know Elk Mound has some athletic kids and they would make their runs,” Maas said.”We just had to make sure we countered with enough points and defensive stops to hang on for a win,” he added.
DeMoe lead all scorers with 23 points while Svee had a career high 17 for the Mounders. The Vikings were 11 of 24 from the foul line and Elk Mound was five for eight. Colfax is off until Jan. 15 when they host Glenwood City.
COLFAX (45) DeMoe 10-3-6-23, K. Davis 3-1-4-9, Kragness 1-4-8-6, Harmon 1-1-1-3, Rudi 0-2-4-2, A. Davis 1-0-0-2
ELK MOUND (40) Svee 6-3-4-17, Tyman 3-0-1-8, Bohl 2-1-2-7, Zurbuchen 2-0-0-5, Hollister 1-1-1-3
THREE POINTERS: K. Davis 2, Svee 2, Bohl 2, Tyman 2, Zurbuchen 1