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by Marlys Kruger
The week started off pretty well for the Colfax boys’ basketball team as it won a pair of games over two teams it had defeated earlier in the season.
The Vikings had to come from behind in both games but won over Boyceville 75-53 Monday, February 1, ending a three-game losing streak, and in a much closer contest they earned a victory over Glenwood City the next night 60-55. But, the low roof in the Mondovi gym fell in on the Vikings and they were stampeded by the Buffaloes 82-37 in a Friday, February 5 game.
The Colfax boys, 6-6 in the D-SC and 6-9 overall, will close out the regular season with a pair of tough conference games. The Vikings traveled to the home court of league-leading Spring Valley this past Monday, February 8, and will host Durand in the conference and regular-season finale this Thursday, February 11.
Colfax was awarded the number 4 seed and will host fifth-seeded Augusta in a WIAA Division 4 quarterfinal regional game next Tuesday, February 16. The winner of that contest will have to go to Fall Creek on Friday, February 19 where the top-seeded Crickets, 15-5 and Cloverbelt West Champs, will be waiting. The regional championship will be played the following night, Saturday, February 20.
The Bulldogs had only one win on the season when they entered the Colfax gym but the first half saw four tie scores and four lead changes before the Vikings began to pull away.
A pair of Drew Gibson free throws, a Tanner Hoffman put back, a triple by Hunter Rebak and a bucket by Tristan Lenz gave Colfax a 9-5 lead. But, the Bulldogs knotted it up then went up 11-10. Caden Erickson dropped in two free tosses to give Colfax the lead back but Walker Retz scored in the paint for a 13-12 Boyceville advantage.
A seven-point run for the Vikings made it 20-13 however Bulldog freshman Nick Olson brought his team back with seven points, and Connor Sempf and Olson put them up 29-27. Gibson knocked down two freebies to knot it up and Boyceville’s Connor Larson and Erickson traded three pointers for a 32-32 tie. Gibson scored on a put back, Noah Heidorn slipped behind the Bulldog defense for a bucket. Erickson added another fast break deuce and with a Rebak shot under the hoop it was quickly a 42-34 lead for Colfax at the intermission.
The Vikings took control early in the second half by using the length of Gibson and Lenz in the paint to force the Bulldogs into taking some bad shots. They extended their lead to 60-41 on a drive by Elijah Entzminger and a free throw from Nick Jensen made it 63-46.
Boyceville made a run with Retz scoring four points to cut the margin to 14 points but Heidorn and Lenz both scored to bring the Viking lead to 69-53. Ryan Albricht canned a three pointer for the Vikings final points of the contest.
Four Vikings scored in double figures led by Erickson’s 14. Lenz added 12 and Gibson and Heidorn both finished with ten each. Colfax knocked down seven treys in the contest including two apiece by Erickson and Hoffman and as a team they were 10-of-19 from the foul line. Sempf was high scorer for Boyceville with 14 points and the team canned eight triples and were five-of-eight from the charity stripe.
“Boyceville played a lot of young kids tonight and they were making their shots in the first half,” Colfax coach Mark Noll said. “Our overall depth seemed to get to them in the second half and it allowed us to start pulling away. Ten different players scored for us tonight and that is always a plus. We should win games if that many players contribute in the scoring column,” he added.
The Hilltoppers were playing some pretty good basketball the past two weeks so it was no surprise that it was a close game all the way through. There were at least six lead changes during the contest and five tie scores, the last one at 44-44 before the Vikings took a lead for good.
Glenwood held a 12-7 lead with help from three triples, two by Gavin Janson, before Erickson knocked down a trey to make it 12-10. Lenz scored from underneath, Gibson hit two free throws and another Erickson three ball put the Vikings up 17-14. However, the Toppers knocked down another long ball to knot things up and added a bucket to go up by two.
Lenz scored in the paint again but the Toppers hit yet another trey for a 22-19 advantage. Heidorn scored on a fast break via a slick pass from Erickson and the Toppers countered that shot too, then with another shot from behind the arc went ahead 27-21.
Heidorn drove the lane for two and Hoffman canned a jumper from the top of the key to get Colfax within two but another Glenwood bucket combined with their sixth triple – the fifth from Janson – and two more points gave them a 34-25 lead. Colfax implemented a full court press and in a matter of seconds put five points up, on a free throw by Heidorn, two more from Lenz and a deuce from Rebak, leaving the Vikings down 34-30 at the break.
The Vikings must have had a pretty strong pep talk from coach Noll as they stormed out of the locker room and went on a nine-point run to start the second half. Heidorn started with a drive down the lane, Gibson scored on a nifty underhand scoop then got behind the Topper defense for a fast break bucket. When Erickson drained a trey it was 39-34 for Colfax in a span of two minutes. But, someone forgot to keep an eye on Janson as he scored in the paint and canned his sixth—and final—triple to tie it up at 39-39.
Gibson and the Toppers’ Mitchell Bliese traded treys, then Heidorn and Glenwood’s Drew Olson took turns scoring from close range to make it 44-44 with 9:14 to go in the game.
Nate Hydukovich picked a great time to score his first points of the game on a drive through the lane to put the Vikings up, and they didn’t give up the lead the rest of the way. Hoffman canned his second trey, Hydukovich swiped the ball and scored again and Gibson scored on yet another fast break for a 53-44 advantage.
Justin Moe broke the Viking’s scoring string with a deuce but that was countered by Gibson’s put back and it appeared Colfax might have the game under control. But, the Toppers were relentless and cut the Colfax lead to four points at 56-52 with 3:31 left.
Colfax decided to slow things down and used up 35 seconds before Heidorn found Gibson under the hoop for an easy bucket. Glenwood had plenty of chances on their next possession to score but missed four shots, three from under the hoop, before the Vikings finally corralled the rebound. Erickson then assisted Lenz for two more points in the paint to increase the lead to 60-52 and the Toppers came up empty on two more possessions. After a missed free throw by Colfax, Glenwood scored their final points on a buzzer-beater trey from Bliese, which was their tenth of the game.
“Glenwood City really improved as the season went on,” coach Noll said. “They were coming off a close loss last night to a very good Osseo-Fairchild team and that played to our advantage. We had more players help us out tonight which led to balanced scoring with five players scoring nine or more points. Tanner Hoffman and Tristan Lenz have been coming on strong lately and we will need them and everybody else to step up in the next couple of weeks. We will have played seven games in 11 days. That must be a record here at Colfax,” he said with a laugh.
Gibson led the Vikings with 13 points, followed by 12 from Heidorn and ten each by Hoffman and Lenz. Erickson added nine on a trio of treys. Colfax knocked down six triples and were six-of-13 at the charity stripe. Gibson had a team high nine rebounds, Heidorn picked up six assists and four steals while Lenz blocked five Topper shots.
Janson was high man for the Toppers with 20 points and the team had just two attempts from the foul line, making one.
Finding out you don’t have your starting point guard and starting forward on late notice can throw your whole team into disarray which is exactly what happened to the Vikings from the opening horn. With Heidorn unavailable, coach Noll used five different players to try and run the offense starting with 6’5 Gibson. Hoffman, whom Noll had talked so highly about in their previous game, was also sidelined.
But this night belonged to Mondovi as they used their overly aggressive 1-3-1 zone defense to force somewhere in the vicinity of 20 turnovers—in the first half—by the Vikings. To top it off, they shot close to 70 percent in the half with just about every shot taken finding its way into the basket. Of course, most of the shots were layups off steals and fast breaks with some three pointers in the mix. The Buffaloes had been averaging 59 points a game and held a 58-13 lead at the intermission.
The Vikings didn’t hang their heads however, and they scored a couple of quick baskets by Lenz and Gibson to start the second half. Gibson then drained a triple from way behind the arc and Rebak hit back to back deuces to go with an Erickson free throw and cut the deficit a bit, down 66-27.
With a new rule in basketball, if there is under nine minutes left and one team has a 40-point lead, a running clock comes into play. The Buffs hit that point when they went up 72-27. Gibson, Max Knudson, and Rebak all scored buckets and Erickson drained a triple for the rest of the Viking’s points.
Lenz led the Vikings with 10 points with Gibson adding nine, Erickson and Rebak eight each, and Max Knudson two.
“As a team you get used to playing a certain role and when all of a sudden two of your starters are taken out of the lineup that puts a lot of pressure on the remaining kids and now their roles have changed and that’s what made it really hard because now we don’t have our starting point guard we don’t have our four guard and everyone’s role’s were different,” said Noll.
“Now we have two different kids that are starting and different subs that are coming in for them at different positions on the court and then on top of it you play a team like Mondovi who is super athletic, super aggressive and they came out really hard and they were trapping and pressing us big time and we did not handle it well. I used 5 of my 7 timeouts in the first half,” he added. “In the second half, they were still trapping us but we handled it better and we calmed down and relaxed a little bit in the second half.”