By Cara L. Dempski
ELK MOUND — The first game played at Elk Mound High School during the Mounders’ final week of regular-season play was not exactly what coach Mike Kessler would have liked.
The Mounders’ played the Spring Valley Cardinals February 20 after the game was postpone for one night on account of a late winter storm making roadways dangerous. Maybe it was the extra day, but the home squad seemed to flounder at the beginning of the game and the end to fall to 7-6 in the Dunn-St. Croix after being dished a 63-41 loss by the Cards.
It was the second time in eight days that Spring Valley had beaten the Elk Mound boys, having won 62-48 in Valley on February 13.
Elk Mound worked to get back on track before their final conference and regular-season game February 22 at home versus Mondovi. The senior-night contest was a battle down to the wire, with Mondovi prevailing 63-60 Thursday evening.
Kessler and his squad of orange and black turned their full attention to the regional quarterfinal contest at Elk Mound (#7) February 27 against Fall Creek (#10). The winner of that contest will face second-seeded Eau Claire Regis at Regis March 2. The winner of that match-up will face the winner of the Durand game against Stanley-Boyd/Whitehall March 3 for the regional championship.
The Mounders finished their regular season 9-13 overall and 7-7 in the Dunn-St. Croix, in a three-way tie for fifth with Mondovi and Colfax.
Anyone who has met Elk Mound’s head basketball coach has likely found him humorous, positive, and optimistic.
Which means his demeanor after the team’s February 20 loss to Spring Valley by a score of 63-41 was somewhat notable for its somberness and sobriety. In short, he looked as lacking in energy as his team did for much of the night’s contest.
“For us, all year long, it’s come down to energy,” he said during his post-game comments. “When we have it, we look good, but when we don’t, we don’t look so good. We’re (the coaching staff) doing our best to try and get it to come out, but some nights it’s better than others.”
The Mounders came out of the gate on their home court looking flat, but pulled to within two points with 13:20 to play in the first half. Spring Valley answered by going on a 12-0 run over the following six minutes to take a 23-7 lead.
Elk Mound started to get back into the game around the 7:02 mark with an inside shot from senior Ryan Mohr to make the score 23-9, but then Blake Rosenthal sent Cardinal Zack Williams to the line to push Spring Valley back out to a 26-9 lead.
The home team started to show some signs of life with 3:19 left before intermission when Dylan Black drew a foul and hit the back end of a two-shot trip to the line. A series of defensive stops kept the Cards in check at 32 points, while Ben Lambele laid one in for two, and then sent up an effortless outside shot for three to make the scoreboard read 32-17 with 1:29 before halftime.
Jake Mentzel kept the momentum going with a bounce-shot off the glass for two points with just 6.5 seconds left in the half to make the score 32-19 in favor of Spring Valley as both teams headed to the locker room.
The Mounders’ energy level stayed high in the opening minutes of the second half, and the team pulled to within eight points with 11:51 to go in regulation on a feed from Black to Lambele to Brandon Redwine, who put it in for two.
Then, though, things just seemed to fall apart. Spring Valley went on a series of scoring runs while keeping the Mounders from finding any good looks, all the while banging away at the backboard to widen the scoring gap.
By the end of the game, the Cardinals claimed both the win and the contest’s highest individual score (Tyson Kado, 24 points).
Lambele led Elk Mound with 15 points, Redwine nabbed seven, Mohr scored six, Black accounted for four, Rosenthal logged three, and Dylan Curry, Brett Lew and Mentzel tied with two apiece.
SPRING VALLEY 63, ELK MOUND 41
Spring Valley……………………..32 31 — 63
Elk Mound………………………..19 22 — 41
TEAM STATISTICS (FG-FT-F-T)
Spring Valley (23-7-9-63) — T. Stangl 3-0-0-9, M. Bauer 1-0-1-3, J. Walkky 0-0-2-0, A. Borgerding 5-4-2-15, L. McMurrin 1-0-1-2, C. Anderson 0-0-1-0, T. Kado 9-0-0-18, Z. Williams 5-3-2-14.
Elk Mound (17-3-6-41) — R. Mohr 3-0-1-6, B. Rosenthal 1-0-2-3, B. Redwine 3-1-1-7, D. Curry 1-0-0-2, B. Lambele 7-0-0-15, D. Black 1-2-0-4, B. Lew 1-0-1-2, J. Mentzel 1-0-0-2, N. Lew 0-0-1-0.
SV — T. Stangl 3, M. Bauer 1, A. Borgerding 1, Z. Williams; EM — B. Rosenthal 1, B. Lambele.
The final home game of each season is traditionally senior night in Elk Mound, and it seemed the Mounders were going to give the watching crowd its money’s worth.
Despite the 63-60 home loss February 22, Kessler said he was impressed with his team’s effort on the court.
“I thought that last night was one of our most complete games in terms of execution and effort,” Kessler wrote. “I was very pleased to see our guys play with such energy.”
While the Elk Mound coach and his team were still disappointed with the loss, he expressed his hope the energy shown against the Buffaloes would carry over into the February 27 quarterfinal against Fall Creek.
Senior Dylan Curry picked up the most points with 15, while Lambele and Mohr tied with 11 apiece. Brett Lew contributed eight points, Blake Rosenthal earned seen points, Dylan Black and Jake Mentzel tied with three each, and Nathaniel Schreiber picked up two.
MONDOVI 63, ELK MOUND 60
Mondovi…………………………..34 29 — 63
Elk Mound………………………..38 22 — 60
TEAM STATISTICS (FG-FT-F-T)
Mondovi (25-6-5-63) — B. Christopherson 1-0-0-3, C. Johnson 3-2-1-8, A. Hoepner 9-1-1-19, R. Fath 3-2-0-10, O. Schultz 3-1-0-7, K. Fuentes 3-0-0-9, G. Gifford 1-0-2-3, B. Larson 2-0-1-4.
Elk Mound (23-3-17-60) — R. Mohr 5-0-3-11, B. Rosenthal 3-0-1-7, D. Curry 4-3-2-15, B. Lambele 5-0-5-11, D. Black 1-0-1-3, B. Lew 3-0-1-8, J. Mentzel 1-0-1-3, N. Schreiber 1-0-2-2, N. Lew 0-0-1-0.