As the number three seed in the regional tournament, the Colfax boys hosted a game to get things going, taking on Spring Valley for the third time this season. The Vikings beat the Cardinals 46-35, sending the Vikings to Elmwood-Plum City, just eight days after they defeated the Wolves to earn a tie for the conference championship. This time around was a different story however as the Wolves came up with a clutch shot in the waning moments of the game, knocking the Vikings out of the playoffs by a score of 45-44.
If someone had told you Sawyer DeMoe scored only three points for the Vikings in the game you would probably figure they came out on the short end of the stick. DeMoe averages 15 points a game and went over the 1,000 point mark earlier in the season, but with the Cardinal defenders collapsing around him in an effort to deny him the ball, then double or triple teaming him when he did get his hands on it, he was forced into several off balanced shots in the contest. The result was Colfax holding just a 9-6 lead after a quarter of play.
Needing someone to step up after Spring Valley closed the gap off of an offensive rebound, Aliymu Davis did just that as he drained a pair of triples but the Cardinals canned one of their own in between, keeping the Colfax lead at two, 15-13. Spring Valley knotted it up with a shot in the paint but Davis came up big again with another trey, and after a Ben Kragness free toss it was 19-15 at the intermission in the Vikings favor.
“We wanted to play a slow down, patient offense the first half to save our legs in case we needed to increase the tempo,” coach Garrett Maas said. “We didn’t have as big of a lead as I had hoped, though.”
The slim lead became even slimmer when Spring Valley’s Sam Green hit a shot in the paint and added a free throw to open the third quarter. It was time for the Vikings to get the action rolling on both ends of the court, starting with Kedar Davis knocking down his second trey of the game. Jarrod Rudi then used his long arms to swipe the ball away and drove end to end for a layup. Kedar Davis took his turn stealing the ball and went to the hoop for two points with a Cardinal defender hanging on him and he tacked on a free throw for 29-18 advantage.Rudi added a free throw before the Cardinals finally broke the Colfax run with a deuce. But Kedar Davis stole the ball again and assisted his younger brother on a layup and Aliymu added another bucket on a drive though the lane and added the free throw with it for a 35-20 lead. After the Cardinals came up with four points, Colfax slowed things down, looking for a final shot as they did the two previous quarters, and although they failed to convert for the third time, they took a 35-24 lead into the fourth.
11 of the Vikings’ 13 points in the last eight minutes came from the charity stripe, all after Spring Valley came up with three points to cut the lead to 35-27. Rudi knocked one freebie down and Aliymu Davis added a deuce on a drive, and the Cardinals continued to foul. But the Vikings made sure the ball was in the right hands as Kedar Davis went to the line five times in the next minute and a half and drained seven of 10 freebies for a 45-33 lead with 1:15 left. Then Jeremiah Wait, DeMoe and Brett Prince all went one for two at the line to finish things off for the night.
“Obviously our aggressive defense led us to some big offensive plays,” Maas said. “Our defense has been keeping us going all year and we hit big shots at the right time,” he added.
The Davis brothers made sure there was no bragging rights on the home front as both of them came up with 16 points to lead the Vikings. Colfax was 15 of 25 from the foul line while Spring Valley was four of six.
COLFAX (48) K. Davis 3-8-11-16, A. Davis 6-1-1-16, Rudi 3-2-4-8, DeMoe 1-1-2-3, Kragness 1-1-2-3, Wait 0-1-2-1, Prince 0-1-2-1
SPRING VALLEY (35) Green 5-1-1-11, J. Helmer 5-1-3-11, L. Olson 2-0-0-5, N. Kalmes 2-0-0-4, S. Borgerding 1-2-2-4
THREE POINTERS: A. Davis 3, K. Davis 2, Olson 1
With the two teams ending up as co-conference champions, it was no surprise this entire game was close all the way through. E-PC had won the first go round in Colfax by a single point, but the Vikings came back in the final game of the regular season to take a six point win in the game played in Plum City. This game was played in the Elmwood gym in front of a full house and a very noisy crowd. Both teams had chances to pull out to a big lead throughout the game but being so evenly matched, both showed resiliency and continued to battle back.
Kedar Davis scored the first five points of the game for the Vikings on a drive through the lane and a triple but the Vikings fell behind 11-5. Rudi responded with his own shot from long range before the Wolves Peter Fenter hit his second triple of the quarter to put them up by seven at 15-8. Kedar Davis canned another long ball and the quarter ended with the Vikings down 15-11. Shooting woes from the inside and lack of ball control around the perimeter proved to be a huge factor as Colfax came up empty on six shots in the lane the first quarter and turned the ball over several times.
After Aliymu Davis slid down the middle of the lane for a deuce, Rudi came up with a swipe and an end to end dribble-drive to knot the score at 15-15 early in the second stanza. A pair of free tosses gave the Wolves the lead back before Kedar Davis drained his third trey for an 18-17 Vikings’ advantage. Things were looking good when Aliymu Davis scored in the lane and DeMoe added his first points of the game on a triple for a 23-17 lead but an E-PC shot in the lane and two free throws quickly cut the lead to 23-21. Both teams had an opportunity to add points in the last minute but neither managed to get the ball in the hoop, and the half ended with the Vikings holding that two point advantage.
“They made a run on us early on but we did a good job surviving it,” Maas said. “We talked a lot about that during the season. We battled back by taking good shots on offense and making them shoot over the top of us on defense.We had the pace of the game to our liking at the half.”
Most of the Colfax fans expected to see the Vikings come out of the lockerroom using their full court press to try and force some turnovers, much like they did in the Spring Valley game, but Maas had other ideas. After E-PC regained the lead at 24-23, Rudi took it back with another shot in the paint. After forcing a turnover, the Vikings looked to control the pace, passing the ball around for over a minute and a half but came up empty on a shot. Colfax then proceeded to turn the ball over on their next two possessions and the Wolves took advantage of it as they scored to take a 26-25 lead. It was DeMoe’s turn to take it back however, as he drove the middle for a bucket, and Rudi took over in the next minute, knocking down a pair of free tosses and scoring on a runner in the lane, sending the Colfax fans into a frenzy and the team to a 31-26 lead after three quarters of play.
Aliymu Davis, Kedar Davis and Jeremiah Wait all entered the final quarter with three fouls for the Vikings which either put them on the bench or forced them to cut down on their aggressiveness, and E-PC again took advantage as they scored on two free throws with a drive in the lane in between to cut the Colfax lead to 31-30.With 5:41 left, both teams had committed their seventh team foul and it looked like there was going to be a lot of action from the charity stripe from there on out. DeMoe scored on a put back and after a Wolve turnover, Kedar Davis drew a foul and canned a pair of free tosses for a 35-30 lead with 4:45 to play. Kedar Davis committed his fourth foul right after but E-PC missed a free throw to help the Vikings out. However, Colfax came up empty on their own free toss and the Wolves went right down court and scored off an offensive rebound. Wait was back in the game after sitting out due to his foul situation and drew E-PC’s tenth team foul, hitting one of two freebies. The Vikings continued to run the clock, this time with positive results as Aliymu Davis was fouled and he hit both free throws for a 38-32 advantage with 2:49 left. The Wolves mis-fired on a three point attempt, forcing them to foul, but a pair of Colfax free throws missed the mark and Wait picked up his fifth foul trying to steal the ball away. Alex Boyer hit both of his free tosses then scored on a slick jump and scoop shot and just like that, the Colfax lead was down to two at 38-36. The Vikings tried to keep the ball in Kedar Davis’ hands as much as possible, resulting in him canning two more freebies, and when the Wolves came up empty on two more possessions, things were looking good for the visiting team. Nash Gilles managed to hit a free toss for the Wolves, and E-PC intensified their defensive pressure big time, forcing Maas to call a time out to avoid a turnover. Kragness was fouled right after the ball got into play and he calmly knocked down both free throws for a 42-37 lead with .57 left.
But if anyone thought Colfax had things under control, they were sadly mistaken as Boyer, the Wolves second leading scorer, drained a triple. Kedar Davis responded by hitting one of two free tosses, and after Rudi blocked a E-PC shot on the other end, DeMoe came up with one of two from the foul line for a 44-40 lead. Levi Wolf, E-PCs leading scorer knocked down two free throws, and when the Vikings struggled to get the ball in bounds, Maas was forced to call another time out. But yet again, they had trouble finding an open player and as Maas was trying to call another time out on the opposite end of the gym the crowd noise was a factor and the referees didn’t hear him in time. E-PC ended up with the ball but a Viking player got his hand on it, resulting in a battle on the floor with both teams fighting for possession. The Wolves coach called his own time out with 13 seconds left, and after taking it out on the sideline, Gilles found himself somewhat open and with 4.4 seconds left, he let her fly from behind the arc and drained his first triple of the game to put his team up 45-44. Maas took his final time out to try and set up one last play, but with Kedar Davis taking the inbounds pass and trying to drive down court hoping to get a shot off or at least draw a foul, the referees had no intention of making a call, and the game ended without a shot attempt.
“The final minute of the game did not go the way we would have liked,” Maas said. “We missed too many free throws and had two bad turnovers. But we still had a lead and we made them hit a very tough shot. On our final play, we wanted to get Kedar in the open and hopefully he could make something happen going to the rim. But E-PC did a good job of collapsing and we didn’t get a shot up. I was extremely proud of our kids and how they played for the whole game. After the game, I gave them the quote from Vince Lombardi, “We didn’t lose the game, we just ran out of time”. They should be proud of the accomplishment of being conference champs this year,” he concluded.
Kedar Davis finished with 16 points again for the Vikings while Rudi added 11. Boyer led the Wolves with 16. Colfax was 13 for 20 from the foul line including 11 of 18 in the fourth quarter. E-PC wasn’t much better, hitting 13 of 22 and were just seven of 14 in the final stanza.
Colfax ended their season with a record of 13-11 while E-PC, after playing in Eau Claire the following night, finished at 15-9 with a 76-43 loss to the state’s number one ranked team, the Regis Ramblers.
ELMWOOD-PLUM CITY (45) Boyer 5-5-6-16, Gilles 3-2-6-9, Fenter 3-0-0-8, Wolf 1-4-8-6, A. Coss 0-2-2-2, N. Wells 1-0-0-2, N. Bechel 1-0-0-2
COLFAX (44) K. Davis 4-5-6-16, Rudi 4-2-3-11, DeMoe 3-1-3-8, A. Davis 2-2-2-6, Kragness 0-2-2-2, Wait 0-1-4-1
THREE POINTERS: K. Davis 3, Fenter 2, Rudi 1, Demoe 1, Boyer 1, Gilles 1