COLFAX — It has indeed been a strange Dunn-St. Croix Conference race in the boys’ division so far this season, just as many of the coaches in the conference predicted it would be. The Colfax boys found this out when they dropped their only game of the week at home against Boyceville 39-37 Feb. 3.
The Vikings had defeated the Bulldogs earlier in the season 43-36 and were sitting atop the conference with a 7-2 record. Boyceville had won only two conference games but under first-year coach Ben Luer, they were riding a three-game winning streak and were playing some of their best ball of the season. The loss by the Vikings knocked them out of first place in the conference temporarily, but a win by Elmwood-Plum City over Mondovi later in the week put them back in a tie, with both of those teams each having three losses.
Colfax had been well scouted by the Boyceville coaches and it didn’t take long to see what their game plan defensively was. The Bulldogs worked their zone defense to perfection by not allowing the Vikings’ leading three point shooter Kedar Davis any clear looks at the basket from behind the arc. And although Sawyer DeMoe, the conference’s leading scorer, finished with 21 points, just about every shot was contested and he had to maneuver around a couple of Bulldogs to get to the hoop on all eight of his shots. Boyceville wasn’t shooting the lights out themselves but they simply hit enough shots, all from close range, to stay in the game and hold the Vikings at bay in the final few minutes.
After Jarrod Rudi put the Vikings up 8-6 in the first quarter on a shot under the hoop, Colfax turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions from bad passes, and came up empty on their next four turns with the ball on a charging call, another inaccurate pass, a missed shot and a blocked shot at the buzzer, allowing Boyceville to take an 11-8 lead.
DeMoe came up with a three point play with a bucket and a free toss to knot things up, but the lead changed hands six times early in the second quarter with neither team up by more than a point until DeMoe hit a pair of free throws for a 19-16 lead. Boyceville then went on a five point run which included three free tosses and the Vikings were down 21-19 at the break.
“We were having a tough time getting open shots off their zone,” coach Garrett Maas said. “When we did get shots off we missed too many of them.”
The Bulldogs had four point leads twice in the third stanza but DeMoe scored twice to cut the lead to two both times, then Ben Kragness hit a free throw to get Colfax within a point at 25-24.But that was the last point of the quarter for them and they went into the fourth behind 29-24.
After a Rudi free throw, a Davis drive and a DeMoe deuce, Colfax was back to a two point deficit at 31-29 but shots in the paint by Boyceville’s Mitch Leach and Jacob McIntyre upped their lead to six with under five minutes left. Jeremiah Wait connected on a cross court pass to Rudi for a deuce in the paint then Davis swiped the ball and drove down for a layup and Colfax was back in business, down 35-33 with three minutes left. But the Vikings missed two open shots from close range on their next possession, and after making a stop on the defensive end, Davis was called for a charge trying to drive to the basket. Brett Prince blocked a shot which would have given Boyceville an easy layup but it was the seventh team foul on Colfax, sending Brady Schutts to the line. He hit one of two for a 37-33 lead, and a subsequent traveling call in the lane by Colfax gave the ball back to the Bulldogs with a minute left. Needing to get the ball back, Colfax fouled again and although the free throw was missed, Boyceville snared the rebound and drew another foul. Leach hit both freebies for a 39-33 lead and Colfax went cold again as they missed shots twice on their next possession, and after Boyceville missed two more free tosses, the Vikings came up empty on another close range shot. With 14 seconds left, Kragness found DeMoe with an ally-oop pass under the hoop and the Vikings were down 39-34 but there wasn’t enough time to score twice. DeMoe added a final shot at the buzzer to end the game with the two point loss.
“It’s been a long three weeks for us with a lot of games,” Maas said. “It has shown in our lack of ability to move the ball on the offensive side. Our defense kept us in the game but we have to get more kids shooting consistently,” he added.
DeMoe was the only Viking in double figures with his eight deuces and five of five free throw shooting. Colfax finished nine of 11 from the foul line while Boyceville was 13 of 23 and neither team scored points from three point shots.
BOYCEVILLE (39) Leach 5-3-4-13, J. McIntyre 3-4-6-10, Schutts 1-2-4-4, H. Anderson 1-2-4-4, B. Boda 2-0-0-4, J. Schulz 0-2-2-2, T. Draeger 1-0-3-2
COLFAX (37) DeMoe 8-5-5-21, Rudi 2-3-4-7, Davis 3-0-0-6, A. Harmon 1-0-0-2, Kragness 0-1-2-1