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By Amber Hayden
The Elk Mound boys’ basketball squad was the lone outsider in a regional bracket filled with Middle Border Conference teams.
But the Mounders showed they could compete with games against the Somerset Spartans and the Prescott Cardinals in the opening rounds of the 2019 WIAA Division 3 tournament.
With a first-round, quarterfinal road game against the Spartans last Tuesday, February 26 the ninth-seeded Mounders found themselves nervous and unsure how things would start as they began their run in Division 3. After the jitters wore off, the Mounders were able to settle in and began their run toward a regional title with a 46-41 win over the number eight Spartans.
Moving on, the Mounders had a tough game in front of them in the Friday evening, March 1 semifinal, as they traveled to take on the top seed and defending Division 3 state champion Prescott Cardinals.
The Cardinals came to play that evening as they made several point runs on Elk Mound and were able to widen the gap to 16 in the 74-58 victory over the Mounders.
With the loss, Elk Mound finished its season with a 10-14 over-all record and were 7-7 in the Dunn-St. Croix conference for a fourth-place finish.
Coach Michael Kessler could not be more proud of the way the Mounder men have performed this season including against Prescott last Friday evening, March 1.
“Our kids played so tough, I’m so proud of them,” Kessler said. “We battled the entire game! Down 11 at halftime and withstood runs in both halves.”
It was an uphill battle throughout the entire game for the Mounders as Prescott kept the pressure on Elk Mound on both ends of the court.
Marcus Kinblom wrapped up his senior season just shy of 300 total points as he added 16 to his career against the Cardinals with six shots from underneath the basket and went four-of-five from the line.
Senior Brett Lew finished out the season with 14 points against Prescott as he netted four baskets from outside the arc and when sent to the line was two-of-two.
“At one point they (Prescott) had an 18-point lead in the second half and with seven minutes left we cut that lead to eight,” stated Kessler. “We had two possessions in a row at that point where we had threes go in and out that could have cut it to five.”
Ryan Bohl and Jake Mentzel stepped up for Elk Mound and were able to put down some three-pointers for the Mounders as they hit 14 points total between the pair. Bohl went two-of-two from the charity stripe and hit a trio of threes, while Mentzel bucketed a trey.
It has been a tough run for senior Rian Flynn of late as he managed six points against the Cardinals, stemming from a pair of threes.
Tacking on the remaining points for the Mounders were teammates Blaze Todd with a two doubles, Colton Ward with a lone trey and Nate Lew bucketed one bonus shot.
“We couldn’t bring the lead down any smaller,” Kessler said. “Again, so proud of our kids!”
ELK MOUND 58, PRESCOTT 74
Elk Mound.…..…….30 28 – 58
Prescott.….….…… 41 33 – 74
TEAM STATISTICS (FG-FT-F-TP)
Elk Mound — R. Bohl 3-2-2-11, R. Flynn 2-0-2-6, N. Lew 0-1-2-1, C. Ward 1-0-2-3, B. Lew 4-2-0-14, J. Mentzel 1-0-1-3, B. Todd 2-0-0-4, M. Kinblom 6-4-3-16.
Prescott — D. Malmlov 30, P. Nielsen 19, J. Doffing 9, B. Tayson 7.
First round jitters set in for Elk Mound as they took to the court last Tuesday evening, February 26, but as the nerves settled for the Mounders, they were able to put down a win by five and score of 46-41.
“So proud of our kids, seemed like both teams were fighting off jitters in the first half as both struggled to put the ball in the basket,” head coach Michael Kessler said. “Really happy with our defensive effort all night long though.”
Senior Marcus Kinblom was the leading force for the Mounders as he tallied 16 points overall, Kinblom hit six shots from inside the paint and was four-of-four from the line.
Jake Mentzel and Brett Lew were strong from all sides of the court with 15 points respectively between the pair. Mentzel hit two doubles and a triple, while Lew hit a double, netted a trey and was three-of-six from the line.
“Thought our kids did a much better job reading the defenders and cutting accordingly on offense in the second half which led to some easy buckets around the rim, and open shots on the perimeter,” Kessler explained.
The first 18 minutes of the contest belonged to Somerset as they went into halftime with a two point lead over the Mounders, but Elk Mound would bounce back in the second to have a seven point lead over the Spartans.
On the quiet side of things were teammates Rian Flynn, Ryan Bohl and Nate Lew all with three points a piece. Flynn and Bohl each netted a lone triple while Lew had a double and was one-of-one from the line.
Wrapping it up point wise for Elk Mound was Colton Ward with a single foul shot and Cade Hanson with a double and triple.
ELK MOUND 46, SOMERSET 41
Elk Mound.…..…….18 28 – 46
Somerset.….….…… 20 21 – 41
TEAM STATISTICS (FG-FT-F-TP)
Elk Mound — R. Bohl 1-0-1-3, R. Flynn 1-0-0-3, N. Lew 1-1-1-3, C. Ward 0-1-3-1, C. Hanson 2-0-1-5, B. Lew 2-3-0-8, J. Mentzel 3-0-1-7, M. Kinblom 6-4-2-16.
Somerset — A. Shartin-Folkert 1-0-3-2, B. Sheridan 1-0-0-3, J. Cook 3-0-0-6, W. Piletich 2-0-2-5, T. Kreibich 3-2-5-11, T. Madden 4-2-2-11, M. Cook 0-1-3-1.
EM — R. Bohl 1, R. Flynn 1, C. Hanson 1, B. Lew 1, J. Mentzel 1; S — B. Sheridan 1, W. Piletich 1, T. Kreibich 3, T. Madden 1.