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By Marlys Kruger
ELK MOUND — After taking a rather decisive 61-36 win over Colfax just eight days earlier, the Elk Mound boys used their stifling defense and eight, three-point shots to earn their second win over the Vikings on their home court 51-37 in a Saturday matinée January 30.
With the win, the Mounders are now 8-8 and are 5-3 in Dunn-St. Croix Conference play. Colfax drops to 4-4 in the conference and 4-7 overall.
The Vikings have been trying to figure out how to beat zone defenses quite often this year and shooting over them is one way to do that. They jumped out to a 5-0 point lead on Noah Heidorn’s triple and a bucket from Tristan Lenz under the hoop. Ryan Bartig put the Mounders on the board with a free toss and Nate Lew scored and drew a foul, adding the free throw. The Viking’s Drew Gibson and Bartig traded treys, then Ryan Bohl put the Mounders up 10-8 with his own shot from behind the arc.
Ben Heath scored on a put back to up the Mounders lead to 12-8 but Ryan Albricht countered with his first triple of the game. The Vikings regained the lead at 14-12 on Heidorn’s second long ball, but that lead didn’t last long as Bartig drained another shot from three-point land over the zone defense employed by the Vikings to give his team a 15-14 lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way.
Ben Heath drove the lane for two points and Lew canned a triple for a 20-14 advantage but Gibson kept the Vikings close with his second three ball and a deuce off an in-bounds pass to make it a one-point game. Kaden Russo got into the three-point action with his own then scored in the lane, and Heath added another bucket for a 27-20 advantage. After the Vikings missed one of several bunnies near the basket, the Mounders missed a shot but got their own rebound three times and Bohl finished with a basket and the half ended at 32-20 in favor of Elk Mound.
“I thought our guys moved the ball well offensively and we were able to get the ball inside versus their zone,” Mounder coach Michael Kessler said. “We were able to collapse the zone enough to get shots around the rim or kick it out for 3s.”
Caden Erickson, who averages 13 points a game, hit a trey to start the second half for the Vikings and yet again, the Mounders responded with a Russo triple and yet another offensive rebound deuce. Heath added another close-range bucket and a free throw for a 42-23 advantage before Hunter Rebak scored for Colfax on a jumper. Bohl countered that with his own short shot then Erickson tried to get Colfax back in the game with five points on a long ball and a pair of free tosses but the Mounders were still up 44-30.
Colfax used a full court press to slow the Mounders down but with enough decent ball handlers it didn’t cause any turnovers. Heath added a deuce on a nifty reverse layup and a final triple by Bartig and one more from Colfax’s Albright produced the final score.
“We improved a ton since the first time we played them,” Colfax coach Mark Noll said. “We were only outscored by two points the second half and I think our defense looked better. We missed eight free throws and a bunch of shots under the basket. We didn’t have many open shots and when you get them you have to make them count. We struggled with rebounding again, but playing four games in six days made it tough to chase after the ball,” he added.
Bartig and Heath led the Mounders with 13 points each, Russo added ten, Lew eight and Bohl seven. Bartig canned four of Elk Mound’s eight treys and the team went five-for 11 at the charity stripe. Colfax had nary a player in double figures as Erickson and Gibson had nine points apiece. Albricht and Heidorn both finished with six, Lenz added five and Rebak two.
Four Vikings combined for eight treys including two each by Erickson, Heidorn, Gibson, and Albricht. Colfax shot just five-for 13 at the foul line.
Neither team will be getting much rest as they both have three games this week. Colfax begins with home games Monday and Tuesday night, then travel to Mondovi Friday night. The Mounders will be home Monday and Tuesday night then travel to Glenwood City Friday night.
Then next week, Elk Mound finishes up the regular season with an away game at Boyceville on Monday, February 8 before returning home to host Mondovi on Thursday, February 11. Meanwhile, Colfax will also be on the road on Tuesday, February 8 in Spring Valley and finish out at home against Durand on Thursday, February 11.
The WIAA regional tournament for the boys begins on February 16.