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By Marlys Kruger
COLFAX — After winning its third consecutive Dunn-St. Croix Conference championship, the Colfax girls’ basketball team was more than ready to begin WIAA Division 4 regional play.
After receiving a first-round bye as a number two seed, the Vikings hosted their old nemesis, the third seed Eau Claire Regis Ramblers in a regional semi-final contest last Friday, February 12. After trailing by as much as 12 points late in the second half, the Vikings made a push to knot the score with less than ten seconds to play, but lost on a final shot, 44-42, as the buzzer sounded to end their season.
Colfax came in with a 13-3 record, with one of those losses coming from the Ramblers back on December 14 by eight points, and was riding an 11-game winning streak. Regis was just 12-8 overall and 6-5 in the very competitive Cloverbelt West Conference and most of their losses came from highly ranked teams. Regis has been led by junior Makenna Rohrscheib all season who averages 19 points a game and had 18 points the first time they defeated the Vikings.
Within the first three minutes of the game, you could pretty much reason it was not going to be a shootout as both teams were showing very aggressive defenses and were not allowing each other to get a clear look at the basket.
Colfax finally put points up when Addisyn Olson knocked down a pair of free throws. 6’0” freshman Ashley Chilson dropped in a free toss for the Ramblers but Emilee Burcham-Scofield scored from underneath and Madisyn Barstad scored on a put back for a 6-1 Colfax advantage.
Regis came up with a steal and a fast break bucket before Burcham-Scofield added a deuce on a well designed in-bounds pass from under their own basket to make it 8-3 for the Vikings. But, on their next possession, the Vikings had three shots miss the mark and that seemed to be a sign of things to come as they couldn’t find the hoop from long range for most of the game. Regis on the other hand had three different players drain three-point shots in the next few minutes and they went ahead 12-8.
Barstad closed the gap on yet another smooth in-bounds play and Marissa Harmon added two points on a short jumper to keep the Vikings within two, down 14-12, but a pair of Chilson free tosses brought the Regis lead back to four.
Rylee Parker brought the Vikings closer again with a bucket in the paint, but the Ramblers responded again. Burcham-Scofield added a free throw, countered by one from Regis and the teams went into the break with Regis ahead 19-15.
“Hats off to Regis, they came into the game relaxed and they made some big shots early,” Colfax coach Courtney Sarauer said. “I was hoping some of our shots would go in because that would have changed a lot of things,” she added.
Two different Ramblers knocked down triples with a Barstad bucket in between to start the second half as Regis added to their lead at 25-17. But, Barstad drove through the lane for a deuce and McKenna Shipman scored her first points of the game with a putback and the Vikings were drawing closer, down 25-21.
A Rohrscheib bucket upped the Regis lead yet again then Jazzy Best countered with a couple of free tosses for the Vikings. Another Rambler triple was followed by a Barstad deuce and after a Regis free throw, the Vikings took three shots from behind the arc and none of them could find the bottom of the net.
The Vikings made 109 three-point shots this season, coming from 13 different players. But much like the first time they played Regis,when they made just three-of-28 attempts, this night was going the same.
After four free throws by Regis, its advantage was up to 12 points, 37-25, with just under eight minutes to play. Best added another free throw and with 5:21 to go, Shipman added a deuce to cut the Regis lead to 37-28. Colfax forced the Ramblers into a pair of turnovers by its pressure defense and both teams were in the bonus with 3:49 to play.
Things were still looking pretty dismal for the Vikings, trailing 39-28, but after the Ramblers decided to go into a weaving offense to run time off the clock, Colfax was patient but aggressive enough to come up with a steal by Shipman and her layup.
Now down 39-30, Olson was left open in the corner and she canned a trey to make things even more interesting. Olson fouled out a few seconds later however, and after Regis missed the front end of a one and one, Colfax snared the rebound. The Vikings missed another three pointer but Best hit a free throw to bring the score to 39-34 with two minutes left.
The Ramblers added another free toss and Harmon found the range with a triple to bring the Colfax deficit to one possession at 40-37. Harmon then followed her offense with a huge defensive play and stole the ball when the Ramblers tried to inbound it, and Burcham-Scofield was open in the paint for a bucket.
Regis was in the double bonus at this point and the teams traded free throws, starting with Regis, then Best for the Vikings and Regis again. The Ramblers went to the line two more times and both times made the first shot but missed the second, leaving the door open for the Vikings.
The door stayed open as Shipman calmly drained a jumper in the lane to knot things up at 42-42 with 9.6 seconds to go.
Regis called a timeout to set things up and it was pretty much in everybody’s mind who the ball was going to. Rohrscheib had already scored 18 points which included five free throws, and on this final play, the Vikings guarded her as closely as they could without fouling her. But good shooters make big shots and that’s what Rohrscheib did, finding nothing but net on a jumper in the paint to end the game.
“We were out-rebounded tonight because we didn’t box out very well,” Sarauer said. “It just wasn’t our night for shooting either I guess. We had the momentum going our way at the end but Rohrscheib made a great shot and there was nothing we could do about it,” she concluded.
Barstad led the Vikings with ten points, with 12 rebounds and five steals. Shipman added eight points and 11 rebounds, and Burcham-Scofield scored seven points with three steals. Harmon, Olson, and Best all had five points with Best’s all coming from free throws and Harmon finished with three assists. The Vikings made eight-of-14 free throws but were two-for-25 from behind the arc. Rohrscheib finished with 20 points and her team made 14-of-26 free tosses.