By Cara L. Dempski
ELK MOUND — The officials nearly stole the show when Elk Mound hosted Arcadia in a WIAA Division 3 girls’ regional semifinal basketball game last Saturday evening.
Fans on both sides of the court had a hard time with many of the calls made during the Mounders’ and Raiders’ February 25 game at Elk Mound. In the end, though, what mattered most was the score, and the second-seeded Mounders copped a 53-39 win over the Raiders, ranked seventh in the half bracket of the Menomonie Sectional.
The victory earned the Mounders a chance to play the regional final at home this past Monday evening February 27. The semifinal game had originally been scheduled for Friday, February 24 but had to be moved to the next day after a winter storm cancelled school and extracurricular activities. That meant that the regional championship, scheduled for February 25, had to be moved to Monday. Due to the Messenger’s Monday print time, the story on the regional final will appear in the March 8 issue.
Mounders’ head coach Jordan Kongshaug credited his team’s fortitude with getting through some tough stretches in the game.
“The tournament is a mixed bag. I thought our kids battled hard,” Kongshaug said. “We talked about how in the tournaments, you’re going to have ups and downs. I thought our kids stayed mentally tough.”
The toughness served the Mounders well, as the head coach also credited Arcadia with being an excellent basketball team despite its large number of young players.
Elk Mound struggled a little initially with Arcadia’s substantial defense, but it did not take long for them to find chinks in the Raiders’ armor. Arcadia got on the board first with a two-point sinker from senior Tracy Kotlarz only 20 seconds into the game.
But, then Morgan Radtke tied things up at two and Elizabeth Fasbender dropped in another two to give Elk Mound its first lead, 4-2, with 16:40 to play in the opening half. Arcadia drilled in a three-point shot, but Allie Weber responded in kind, and the score became 7-5 at the 15:47 mark.
Fasbender fouled Arcadia’s Linzy Sendelbach, who hit both shots to knot the score at 7 after barely six minutes had passed in the game, but Radtke gave the Mounders an edge again when she struck for two at 13:38. Fasbender then went to the line, hitting the first of two charity throws, to increase Elk Mound’s lead with a score of 10-7.
From that point, the Mounders started to slowly pull away from the Raiders. Arcadia brought the game back to within one with 8:08 to go before halftime, and trailed by only two with 6:06 left to play, but could not close the gap completely and headed into the locker room trailing Elk Mound 28-20.
Things did not improve for the Raiders as they stepped back onto the court in the second half. Radtke hit a field goal for two, increasing Elk Mound’s lead to 10, before 30 seconds passed in the half. Nearly 90 seconds later, Allie Weber sent up a shot midway between the top of the key and the baseline to score another three for the Mounders.
The Raiders found their footing with a big three-point shot from Alayna Tulip at 15:57 to get back to within 10, and then got two more points out of senior Abbey Zastrow. The Arcadia player drew a foul on the shot, but could not get her free throw to foul, and the score stood at 33-25.
Kotlarz committed her second foul of the night, sending Fasbender to the line for Elk Mound, where she again sunk both throws to lift Elk Mound to 35-35 over Arcadia. Zastrow hit the line again a minute later and dropped in both shots to make the score 35-37.
What followed was a series of foul calls against the Mounders that left fans scratching their heads. The streak broke on a beautiful shift in direction involving a split second 270-degree spin from Fasbender to bounce the ball to Weber. The junior stepped up to the arc and unleashed a three-point shot that swished through the net to draw a huge response from the Elk Mound crowd, and make the score 42-27.
The Mounders continued to answer each of Arcadia’s shots with their own, maintaining at least a 14-point lead for the remainder of the game.
Fasbender led Elk Mound, and the game, with 15 points. Kami King earned 10, Weber and Kaitlyn Baier recorded eight points each, Morgan Radtke nabbed six, and Ashley Gunderson-Morris and Hannah Cedarblade tied with three each.
Arcadia’s highest-scoring player was junior Annika Anderson, who chalked up 13 points against Elk Mound.
With the first regional game under their belt, the Mounders turned their attention to their February 27 contest against sixth-seeded Westby, who stunned number-three seeded West Salem to get a crack at Elk Mound. Another Mounders’ win would propel the squad into this Thursday’s sectional semifinal game at Osseo-Fairchild High School against the winner of the Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau (#1) and Bloomer (#5) regional game.
ARCADIA 39, ELK MOUND 53
Arcadia…………………………….20 19 — 39
Elk Mound………………………..28 25 — 53
TEAM STATISTICS (FG-FT-F-T)
Arcadia (10-10-17-39) A. Zastrow 2-2-0-6, A. Anderson 1-2-2-13, L. Sendelbach 2-3-4-7, T. Kotlarz 2-0-3-4, A. Tulip 0-0-3-0, A. Suchla 2-1-1-5, E. Hoesley 1-1-2-3, H. Suchla 2-1-1-5.
Elk Mound (11-16-18-53) H. Cedarblade 0-0-0-3, A. Weber 0-2-3-8. E. Fasbender 1-7-4-15, K. King 3-4-4-10, M. Radtke 3-0-4-6, K. Baier 3-2-1-8, A. Gunderson-Morris 1-1-0-3, M. Borofka 0-0-2-0.
THREE-POINTERS A — A. Anderson 3; EM — H. Cedarblade 1, A. Webber 2, E. Fasbender 2.