By Cara L. Dempski
DURAND — Elk Mound girls’ basketball coach Jordan Kongshaug’s description of the Division 4 regional final at Durand last week was perfect in its brevity.
“It was a great high school basketball game,” he said. “Durand’s a great basketball team, and well-deserving of moving on.”
If Mounder and Panther fans could agree on one thing February 26, it is that the five dollar admission fee for the WIAA Division 4 regional final matchup was money well spent.
[emember_protected] The Elk Mound and Durand girls did not disappoint, playing a fast, 36 minutes with the Panthers ultimately coming out on top for a 56-47 win and the regional championship.
Kongshaug acknowledged being disappointed in the loss, the Mounders’ third this season to Panthers, but also acknowledged Durand’s talent and the Panthers’ record for the season.
The Lady Mounders led for most of the game, picking up their first point from Hannah Cedarblade, who hit the back end of a two-shot trip to the charity stripe after just ten seconds had passed in the game. They would pick up another two points courtesy of Morgan Radtke less than a minute later when she dropped in both shots from the free throw line.
Emily Annis put the Panthers on the board with two at 16:50, but the Mounders continue to build a lead, going ahead 7-2 with 14:53 to play in the first half on a big three-point shot off the hands of Cedarblade.
Durand tied the game at 11 with 10:41 to go before intermission, but Elk Mound kept pushing the pace and working to keep the Panthers from driving inside and drawing fouls – a mode of operation Durand appeared to employ for the majority of the game – and took a 24-21 lead into the locker room for a few minutes of respite at halftime.
The home team came out of the break seemingly intent on not allowing the Mounders any further open scoring opportunities, and never allowed Elk Mound to get more than three points ahead of them for the remainder of the game.
Panther Emma Hansen set the tone for the second half by nailing a three-pointer barely a minute into the second half to knot the score at 24 points each, but Elk Mound was able to keep Durand off the board and got Morgan Radtke inside for two.
Allie Weber drew a foul off Hannah Prissel and hit the second of two shots from the line to give Elk Mound a 27-24 lead with 15:39 still to play in the contest.
Durand nabbed its first lead of the game at 15:02 when Annis hit a jumper for two to make the score 28-27 in favor of the Panthers. Madysen Borofka responded two minutes later with a field goal to give the Mounders back the 29-28 lead.
The Panthers went ahead again with 8:15 to play when Prissel drained an inside shot to make the score 35-34 in favor of Durand. Elk Mound responded by taking a 39-27 lead on a three-point corner shot from Radtke with 5:13 to play.
The home squad tied things at 39 just 12 seconds later after Megan Baier went to the line and sunk both. The Panthers took the lead for good with 4:05 to play on a field goal and one to lead 42-41.
From there, Durand kept stretching the lead, only to have Elk Mound come back to within six before Hansen punctuated the win with a pair of free throws with 11.8 left to make the final spread 56-47.
Kongshaug admitted pride in how his team handled the game, and ultimately the season.
“I thought our kids played their hearts out,” he said. “It’s why you play high school sports: to play in big games like this. I’m proud of the kids. I thought we had a good year. Obviously we’d like to still be playing and moving on, but I thought tonight we kept battling.”
The Elk Mound coach said he will miss this year’s seniors, Borofka, Cedarblade, Weber and Crista Sweeney, and will work hard with the underclassmen to come back and take a shot at things again next season.
Radtke picked up the game’s highest individual score with 16 points, Borofka scored 14, Cedarblade and Weber tied with five apiece, Ashley Gunderson-Morris was good for four, and Sweeney finished the game with three.
Durand’s highest score belonged to Hansen, who scored 15 points.
Elk Mound finished the season 18-6 and 11-3 in D-SC play.
The Panthers lost 67-58 to unbeaten and second-ranked Melrose-Mindoro in the sectional semifinal game in Altoona last Thursday, March 1. The Mustangs then thumped D-SC runners-up Colfax 52-31 in the sectional championship played Saturday afternoon at River Falls to earn the state berth and trip to Green Bay.
ELK MOUND 47, DURAND 56
Elk Mound………………………..24 23 — 47
Durand…………………………….21 35 — 56
TEAM STATISTICS (FG-FT-F-T)
Elk Mound (15-12-24-47) — M. Borofka 6-0-5-14, H. Cedarblade 1-2-3-5, A. Weber 1-3-4-5, H. Blaskowski 0-0-1-0, A. Gunderson-Morris 1-2-4-4, M. Radtke 5-4-5-16, C. Sweeney 1-1-2-3.
Durand (16-22-18-56) — S. Baier 5-1-4-12, E. Hansen 4-6-3-15, H. Prissel 2-1-3-5, M. Baier 0-7-4-7, E. Annis 3-5-3-11, S. Dunbar 0-1-1-1, M. Hurlburt 2-1-0-5.
EM — M. Borofka 2, H. Cedarblade 1, M. Radtke 2; D — S. Baier 1, E. Hansen 1. [/emember_protected]