By Cara L. Dempski
ELK MOUND — Elk Mound’s boys’ basketball team had a rare opportunity to face their first regional opponent in a non-conference game to kick off the final week of its regular season.
It did not go well.
The Mounders hosted the Altoona Railroaders last Monday, February 20 in what was a preview of the March 3 regional contest at Elk Mound High School. Elk Mound, seeded third in lower half bracket of the WIAA Division 3 Menomonie Sectional, and Altoona, seeded sixth, but the game did not play out accordingly as the Rails handed the Mounders a 52-34 home defeat.
The Glenwood City boys paid the Mounders a visit just three days later on Thursday, February 23 for the final conference and regular season contest for both teams. The contest was Elk Mound’s opportunity to clinch sole ownership of the Dunn-St. Croix title. Despite some early glitches, the Mounders tied the game at 26 at halftime and pulled out a 69-44 win for their second consecutive conference crown.
With the win against the Hilltoppers, Elk Mound finished the season with a 13-1 DSC record and is currently 17-5 overall heading into regional competition. The Mounders will have had a little over a week off before taking on Altoona at home in a regional semifinal game this Friday, March 3. If the Mounders win that contest, they will face either seconded-seeded Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau or the winner of February 29 quarterfinal game between the Arcadia (#7) and Viroqua (#10), in the regional championship the following day, Saturday, March 4.
If Elk Mound wants to make it any further than the second round of its WIAA Division 3 regional, it will have to play a better game against the Railroaders than it did on February 20.
“It certainly was interesting going up against a team that we are facing in the playoffs,” Mounder head coach Mike Kessler said. “The game certainly gave us plenty to work on as we approach the playoffs.”
Kessler explained the team was not pleased about the 52-34 home loss to the Altoona squad, but is looking forward to having another crack at the Railroaders on March 3.
Only four Elk Mound players, Dane Lew, Ben Lambele, Dylan Black and Chandler Schreiber, were able to score against the Altoona defense. The Mounders drummed up only 24 points in the first half, while the Rails chalked up 31. They could only score a further 10 points in the second as the Railroaders added another 21 points to their lead.
Schreiber led the team with 12 points, which included a two-point shot, a trio of threes, and a single charity throw. Lambele picked up 10 points, Lew tacked on another nine, and Black earned three points.
In contrast, Altoona’s Brett Platzek reeled in 17 to lead the Railroaders and the game.
ALTOONA 52, ELK MOUND 34
Altoona…………………..31 21 — 52
Elk Mound 34………….24 10 — 34
TEAM STATISTICS (FG-FT-F-T)
Altoona (16-5-7-52) M. Adrian 0-0-0-3, E. Olson 1-0-3-2, J. Nelson 2-1-0-8, J. Lippert 0-0-1-0, Z. Hanson 1-0-0-2, J. Meyer 0-0-1-0, J. Chilson 5-4-1-14, D. Ystebo 3-0-1-6, B. Platzek 4-0-0-17.
Elk Mound (7-6-9-34) D. Lew 3-3-1-9, C. Pritchard 0-0-1-0, B. Lambele 3-1-2-10, D. Black 1-1-1-3, C. Schrieber 1-1-4-12.
THREE-POINTERS A — M. Adrian 1, J. Nelson 1, B. Platzek 3; EM — B. Lambele 1, C. Schreiber 3.
You have to hand it to Glenwood City.
There are not many teams out there who can manage to contain the combined efforts of Dane Lew, Ben Lambele and Chandler Schrieber when they get going on offense. The Hilltoppers managed to keep Lew constrained to just five points in the first half of the Elk Mound’s final home game on February 23.
Lambele landed just two points in the same time frame, and Schreiber grabbed 10 of his total 12.
The Mounders tied up the game at 26 before halftime, but needed to recover from a nine-point deficit earlier in the half to do so. But, as has happened so many other times this season, it was a completely different Elk Mound team that hit the court after halftime.
Whereas Lew landed only five points in the first half, he put on another 14 in the second for a total of 19. Lambele hit five inside shots to tack on another 10, and Schreiber dropped in another two for a total of 12.
Head coach Mike Kessler joked after the game that he might have to start giving a speech before the game in addition to his halftime speech.
“Maybe that will help us play a better first half,” he laughed.
Despite the rocky start, the Mounders clinched the Dunn-St. Croix championship with a 69-44 smack down of the Hilltoppers in the final conference contest of the season. With the match-up with the Hilltoppers past, Kessler’s team will be turning its focus to defeating Altoona on March 3 at home.
Jameson Rubenzer continued his streak of games with outside shots, hitting a trio of threes to reel in nine points versus the Toppers. Ryan Mohr used his steady ball-handling to grab five points, and Carter Pritchard nabbed five with a field goal and a three-pointer.
Connor Mavis stepped onto the court to give a few of his teammates a break, and earned four points right off the bench. Brett Lew scored three with a two-point shot that sent him to the line, where he nailed one of two charity throw attempts.
Glenwood City’s Dillon Hierlmeier led the Hilltopper offense with 18 points of his own, including four three-pointers in the first half.
GLENWOOD CITY 44, ELK MOUND 69
Glenwood City………………..26 18 — 44
Elk Mound……………………..26 43 — 69
TEAM STATISTICS (FG-FT-F-T)
Glenwood City (7-9-15-44) D. Hierlmeier 1-4-2-18, P. Hill 2-1-1-5, H. DeSmith 2-0-1-7, D. Loring 0-0-1-0, Q. Taylor 0-0-1-0, R. Schutz 2-4-2-14, T. Davis 0-0-2-0, A. Croes 0-0-5-0.
Elk Mound (20-5-17-69) D. Lew 6-4-3-19, C. Pritchard 1-0-4-5, J. Rubenzer 0-0-1-9, R. Mohr 1-0-3-5, B. Lambele 6-0-1-12, D. Black 0-0-2-0, B. Lew 1-1-0-3, C. Mavis 2-0-1-4.
THREE-POINTERS GC — D. Hierlmeier 4, H. DeSmith 1, R. Schutz 2; EM — D. Lew 1, C. Pritchard 1, J. Rubenzer 3, R. Mohr 1, C. Schreiber 2.