By Cara L. Dempski
The first time the Colfax girls went to Eau Claire Regis High School this season, they left with a 41-36 loss after having led for much of the game.
Head coach Joe Doucette said then he knew he had a much better basketball team than the Vikings’ 2-5 record (at the time) indicated.
The second time the Vikings stepped onto the Ramblers’ court on February 27, they proved Doucette right with a 64-49 win for the Division 4 regional championship trophy. The victory earned Colfax the chance to play Dunn-St. Croix rival Durand a third time this season.
The Panthers and Vikings met at Altoona High School for a sectional semi-final game held Thursday, March 2. The third time nearly proved the charm, as the Lady Vikings led much of the game until the Panthers took their first lead in the final minute and a half of the game.
Durand hit a series of threes to pull back into the game, but it was senior Ambree Schlosser’s putback basket with just 1.8 seconds to sealed the Panthers a 47-45 victory and gave them a berth in the Saturday’s Division 4 sectional final’s contest against Cameron.
The loss capped a season that almost wasn’t, given Colfax’s first few weeks on the court. Despite a slow start to the season, the youthful Colfax squad, gained experience and matured throughout the season to put on a fantastic run to the sectional semifinal game. Though the team says goodbye to seniors Ally Heidorn and Bryana Buchanan, there is plenty of young talent to carry Doucette and the Vikings through the upcoming seasons.
It may have taken them a while, but it seemed like the Colfax girls finally believed in themselves as they entered playoffs.
Coach Joe Doucette seems pleased with his players.
“We are playing our best basketball at the right time,” he said. “We can’t wait to see how Thursday goes.”
The third-seeded Lady Vikings swept past the Mondovi girls on February 25 to take a crack at number-two seed Regis in the February 27 regional final. Colfax led by 11 points at halftime and cruised to a 64-49 finish over the Ramblers for the regional trophy and a trip to sectionals.
Senior Bryana Buchanan picked up eight points early in the game, which allowed the Vikings to building some comfortable padding before heading to the locker room at the half. That’s not to say the first half was perfect, as the Colfax squad got into some foul trouble; Doucette credited strong contributions from the bench with keeping the Vikings’ heads above water to maintain the lead.
Colfax built its lead to 15 points in the opening minutes of the second half, but then Regis went on a run to cut the Vikings’ lead to three.
“I really thought we were in trouble, but we did a great job keeping our composure and weathering the storm,” Doucette stated.
One of the best parts of the night for the Viking coach was watching his team repeatedly put a stop to Regis’ Hannah Anderson, one of the best players in the area. The senior has averaged 15.2 points per game this season, but was held to just four points by the Colfax defense.
Kameri Meredith, a freshman, and Savanna Henricks, a sophomore, tied with 16 points apiece to lead the Vikings’ scoring effort. Alyssa Dachel shot for 70 percent from the line and hit a pair of threes and a field goal on her way to 15 points.
Bryana Buchanan hit a pair of threes and a two-point inside shot to start the game off and earn eight points, Ally Heidorn scored five, and sophomore Emma Hurlburt was credited with a pair of field goals for four points.
Ramblers Kate Seyer and Amber Darge tied with 15 points each to lead the Regis squad.
COLFAX 64, REGIS 49
Colfax………………………………34 30 — 64
Regis……………………………….23 26 — 49
TEAM STATISTICS (FG-FT-F-T)
Colfax (13-20-19-64) A. Dachel 1-7-3-15, M. Schleusner 0-0-1-0, A. Heidorn 1-0-5-5, K. Meredith 7-2-0-16, S. Henricks 1-11-1-16, T. Irwin 0-0-2-0, B. Buchanan 1-0-0-8, H. Sykora 0-0-1-0, R. Scharlau 0-0-2-0, E. Hurlburt 2-0-4-4.
Regis (12-13-27-49) M. Rohrscheib 0-0-2-0, S. Laffey 0-0-2-0, T. Karlstad 3-2-3-8, S. Andre 0-2-3-2, K. Seyer 2-2-5-15, M. Milner 0-0-1-0, A. Darge 3-6-3-15, H. Anderson 2-0-4-4, C. Sabbagh 2-1-4-5.
THREE-POINTERS C — A. Dachel 2, A. Heidorn 1, S. Henricks 1, B. Buchanan 2; R — K. Seyer 3, A. Darge 1.
It was the shot heard ‘round Altoona.
With the game knotted at 45 all, Durand, who had been running the clock down, called a time out with 11.9 seconds left in the game to set up one final play.
The Panthers executed a nice pick play for senior Ambree Schlosser, who dribbled free and headed for the basket. Schlosser put up a running shot that missed its make, the rebound bounced around a mass of Colfax and Durand players before findings its way back into Schlosser’s hands, who put it up and in the hoop to give the Panthers a 47-45 lead 1.8 seconds remaining in its WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal against Colfax on Thursday, March 2 at Altoona High School.
But Colfax still had a last opportunity to win a contest it had led much of the way.
Following a time out, the Vikings lobbed the ball down the court, and the ball wound up in the hands of outside shooter Alyssa Dachel. The Colfax sophomore found her footing and put up a quick shot from behind the three-point arc, which bounced off the front of the rim, over the hoop, and away as the final time ticked off the clock on a 47-45 stunner that ended the Lady Vikings’ season.
“It was a tough loss, we played so well for a long time,” coach Doucette said. “We led the whole game until the three-minute mark.”
Doucette noted the Vikings had several chances to slow Durand’s roll in the final minutes, but could not get shots to drop.
The Lady Vikings led nearly the entire game. The team built a 23-14 lead at the 3:14 mark in the first half, but Durand rallied to take a 23-20 score into the break. Colfax opened the second half with an 8-2 run in the first four minutes to make the score 31-22.
It was 33-24 at 12:38 when Durand went on a 6-0 run to get the game back to 33-29 at 9:14. The Panthers cut their deficit to three at 35-32 with 7:07 to play and had it down to just two points at 39-37 following a three-pointer with 4:04. Colfax stretched it to four points at 41-37 but Durand’s Emily Annis hit a three and it was a 41-40 game at 3:31.
The game stayed at that score until 1:34, when Annis struck again, this time with a layup to make the score 42-41 in favor of the Panthers. Colfax Sophomore Savannah Henricks lifted the Vikings over Durand with a pair of charity throws, making the score 43-42 with just over a minute to play.
A few seconds later, Durand dropped in another field goal to take back the lead, 44-43. After drawing a foul and sinking one of two shots from the line, Durand had its largest lead of the game at 45-43 with only 37.1 seconds to play.
A literal split second later, Dachel stepped up to the line for Colfax. She dropped in two free throws while displaying great poise with only 36.4 seconds left on the clock.
Durand ran the clock down to the final 11.9 seconds, and that was when Schlosser struck.
Henricks topped the Colfax offensive drive with 12 points, while her classmate Emma Hurlburt finished with 11 of her own. Senior Ally Heidorn earned 10 points, Dachel reeled in four, and Morgan Schleusner, Kameri Meredith, Bryana Buchanan and Rachel Scharlau all tied with two points apiece.
Schlosser earned the game’s highest score with 20 points.
As mentioned earlier, the loss means the end of the season for the Vikings, and the end of high school play for its two seniors: Heidorn and Buchanan. Doucette credited both players with helping him teach the younger players.
“They did a great job all year helping a young team grow,” Doucette said. “Even when we struggled early with a tough schedule, they held everyone together. They will be missed terribly.”
Doucette also said he thinks his team has a great future, but only if this season’s underclassmen continue to work hard and improve.
“We would love to be in the same spot next year; to be in a sectional with a great chance to win,” Doucette finished.
The Lady Vikings finished their season with an overall record of 15-10.
COLFAX 45, DURAND 47
Colfax………………………………23 22 — 45
Durand……………………………..20 27 — 47
TEAM STATISTICS (FG-FT-F-T)
Colfax (18-9-15-45) A. Dachel 1-2-3-4, M. Schleusner 1-0-2-2, A. Heidorn 3-4-2-10, K. Meredith 1-0-4-2, S. Henricks 5-2-2-12, T. Irwin 0-0-1-0, B. Buchanan 1-0-2-2, R. Scharlau 1-0-0-2, E. Hurlburt 5-1-0-11.
Durand (13-9-17-47) A. Schlosser 5-4-1-20, S. Baier 1-0-5-2, E. Hansen 3-3-4-9, H. Prissel 0-0-2-0, E. Annis 3-2-2-14, B. Hass 1-0-3-2.
THREE-POINTERS D — A. Schlosser 2, E. Annis 2.