COLFAX — Getting a taste of what it may be like having the Durand Panthers in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference next year, the Colfax girls came oh-so-close to pulling off an upset win over the state ranked team but dropped the contest 45-43 in the Colfax gym Feb. 7.
The Panthers are ranked fourth in Division 3 and were 17-1 with their only loss to Fall Creek. They are undefeated in the Middle Border Conference at 12-0 and were riding a 10 game winning streak when they entered the Colfax gym for the Saturday matinée contest. But the Vikings had their own 10 game winning streak going and were ranked 10th in Division 4 as of last week. The game had all the makings of an exciting and close contest which is just how things played out.
The key to stopping the Panthers this year is keeping senior Morganne Gruber under control. Gruber averages 19 points a game and has been their leading scorer all season. Dempsey Fogarty had the dubious honor of defending her for much of the game and held her to four points in the first quarter. Colfax took an 11-5 lead after two perfect in-bound plays under their own basket with Fogarty scoring and Chey Olson doing the same, while Karina Wait drained a triple. Fogarty went end to end for a fast break layup and Wait scored from underneath. Another Fogarty layup and a drive by Dannielle Dachel gave Colfax a 15-14 lead after the first eight minutes.
Colfax came up empty on six straight possessions which included a pair of missed three pointers, allowing the Panthers to pull ahead 20-15 in part from four Gruber free throws. This was before Dachel broke the run with a shot in the lane. Gruber dipsy doodled through the lane for a deuce which was countered by a couple of Ally Heidorn free tosses, but after a Gruber triple, the Vikings were down 25-19. Katie Christoffel scored in the paint to get Colfax closer but Durand closed out the half with two more buckets for a 27-21 lead.
“We left a few possessions behind from turnovers and didn’t chase down any loose balls,” coach Joe Doucette said. “We didn’t have an offensive rebound until the third quarter.”
Gruber tried to carry the Panthers in the third quarter as she scored all seven of their points but it was still more then what the Vikings could come up with. Fogarty scored twice by attacking the rim and Wait scored off an offensive rebound to get Colfax to within three points at 30-27. But the three point shots wouldn’t fall for them as they mis-fired on three of them and turned the ball over three more times, resulting in a 34-27 deficit as they went into the final quarter.
Gruber may have carried her team for two quarters but that was nothing like Dachel did for the Vikings in the fourth quarter. Unable to get her patented three point shot off, Dachel decided to pound the paint until the Panthers proved they could stop her. After scoring on a drive and on a put back to cut the Panther lead to 34-31, Dachel drove the lane again to score and tacked on a free throw to knot the score with 3:41 to play. But just seconds later, Amanda Wegner canned a triple to give Durand the lead back. After Gruber canned a pair of free throws to up their lead to 39-34, the Vikings were hoping to finally heat up from long distance, as they attempted back to back shots from behind the arc but neither found their intended destination. But Dachel was fouled on the next turn down court as she sliced through the lane again and she knocked down both freebies with 2:19 to go. Colfax committed their seventh team foul shortly after, allowing the Panthers to extend their lead to six points at 42-36 on three free tosses and the Vikings again came up empty on another three point shot. After another Durand free throw, Dachel showed she wasn’t done playing yet as she scored on another drive, and after a Christoffel steal, scored in the lane again and it was a one possession game with Colfax down 43-40 with 21 seconds left. Wegner drew the Viking’s tenth foul however, and hit two free tosses for a five point Panther lead. But the bank must have been open in Colfax on this Saturday afternoon as Dachel used the backboard to can her first triple of the game with only a few seconds left, and the Panthers rode out the clock to steal the two point win.
“We played hard but struggled offensively in the middle of the game,” Doucette said. “Durand changed defenses a lot which gave us trouble and we had some open looks but missed the shots. I made a couple of mistakes coaching wise that cost us some points. We definitely showed we can play with them and we are disappointed with the loss, but our mistakes are fixable and the loss against a good team like this will help us,” he added.
Dachel finished with 20 points including 16 in the fourth quarter while Fogarty added 10 for the game. Gruber led the Panthers with 22 hitting seven of nine free throws. Colfax was five of six at the charity stripe and Durand was 14 of 21.
Colfax returns to conference play at Glenwood City Feb. 10, then will host Mondovi Feb. 13.
DURAND (45) Gruber 7-7-9-22, A. Schlosser 2-4-8-9, W. Tomlinson 3-1-2-7, Wegner 1-2-2-5, M. Radle 1-0-0-2
COLFAX (43) Dachel 8-3-4-20, Fogarty 5-0-0-10, Wait 3-0-0-7, Christoffel 1-0-0-2, Olson 1-0-0-2, Heidorn 0-2-2-2
THREE POINTERS: Dachel 1, Wait 1, Schlosser 1, Wegner 1, Gruber 1