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Durand’s second-half run spells doom for Boyceville

BOYCEVILLE — To be victorious you have to play hard for every minute of a game.

And for the Boyceville boys basketball team that has been a problem this year.

The Bulldogs, with the exception of the recent Glenwood City game, have had trouble playing hard, playing consistent from opening tip to final horn.

Last Thursday’s home game against the conference-leading Durand Panthers was no exception.

Boyceville’s strong, first-half effort had it trailing Durand by just four points at intermission, 32-28.

But it all unraveled as the Bulldogs allowed the Panthers to open the second half on an 11-0 offensive run. That grew to an 18 to 5 bulge within just five minutes and the Bulldogs found themselves trailing by 17 points.

Boyceville did eventually wake from its slumber but by then it was too late. Despite a rally spearheaded by Micadin Kahl’s 17-point second half splurge which included four triples, Durand came away with a 74-65 win on the Bulldogs’ home hardwood January 28.

“We have had slow starts to second halves all year,” said the Bulldogs’ second-year head coach Ben Luer. “We have played with everyone in the conference all year for one half and unfortunately we need to play 36 minutes to win.”

Luer said that Durand platooning systems really wears on teams.

“It showed why they are the best team in the conference,” Luer said of Durand and its system of mass substitutions. “You have to be disciplined defensively and offensively when you play them.”

Durand, who was coming off a 100-52 loss to state-ranked Prescott earlier in the week, maintained  its one-game lead over Elk Mound with the win. The Panthers are 7-1 in the Dunn-St. Croix and 10-5 overall. Boyceville meanwhile slipped to 1-7 in conference games and 1-14 overall.

Kahl finished with 21 points to lead the Bulldogs. Luke Knudtson and Bryce Boda assisted with 13 points a piece. Knudtson finished with 16 of Boyceville’s 31 rebounds.

The Panthers Ben Weber hit six three-point shots and finished with a game high 31 points while teammate Reid Hansen chipped in for 14 points.

Durand took an early eight-point lead to start the game.

Knutson, Kahl and Boda scored on consecutive offensive trips to cut the deficit to two at 15-13.

But a Reid Hansen triple put the Panthers back in front by five.

Hunter Anderson broke Durand’s full court pressure and drove for the lay in. But Durand would put together a six-point run to go ahead 24-15.

Boda and Anderson added back-to-back layups Knudtson followed by Buddy Hanestad each sank a pair of charity tosses to pull the Bulldogs to within a point of the Panthers at 24-23.

Durand put some distance in and looked to be headed to halftime with a 32-25 lead when Hunter Anderson nailed a three-point shot with 2.9 seconds left to make it 32-28.

The Panthers pounced to start the second half. Scoring 11 straight points, Durand opened an 11-point lead.

The first of Kahl’s four triples momentarily halted Durand’s assault. But the Panthers quickly scored eight more points before Luke Knudtson scored with just under 13 minutes to make it 47-33.

Boyceville finally found its shooting touch and slowly worked back into the contest.

Knudtson and Kahl scored on consecutive plays to cut the Bulldogs’ deficit to ten.

A Weber three put the Panthers’ lead back to 15.

Back-to-back threes off the hands of Micadin Kahl followed by a nice inbounds play to Buddy Hanestad for the score had the Bulldogs within ten once again at 60-50.

But Durand and Weber in particular seemed to have an answer for each Boyceville score.

Already in a bit of foul trouble, the Bulldogs were forced to put Durand on the line. Despite connecting on just 50 percent (11 of 22) of its foul shots, the Panthers held on for the 74-65 win.

All five Boyceville starters – Boda, Anderson, Hanestad, Kahl and Knudtson – finished with four fouls.

Boyceville will play its next four games on the road. The boys were to kick-off the road trip in Spring Valley last evening but bad weather postponed the game. The Bulldogs play Plum City/Elmwood this Saturday in Elmwood with the tip off at 2:30 p.m. It is part of a boys and girls doubleheader.