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ELK MOUND — After a resounding 43-point road win over rival Colfax last Tuesday, January 18, the Elk Mound boys’ basketball squad had an opportunity to create a three-way tie for second place in the Dunn-St. Croix race with a home win over Spring Valley last Friday.
The game was close from opening tip to the final horn but Spring Valley held on to take a 52-46 win after a pair of potential game-tying shots by the Mounders rimmed out in the final 90 seconds of regulation play in the January 21 conference contest.
“This was a tough one tonight,” said Michael Kessler, Elk Mound head coach.
“We got beat on the boards and Valley was able to get a few extra buckets. (But I am) proud of our guys, another fun, intense and exciting game,” he added.
One of the keys to Spring Valley’s win was its ability to limit the opportunities of Elk Mound’s leading scorer Caden Russo. Averaging nearly 17 points per game, Russo, who was guarded by the Cardinals’ Tyler Bowman, was held to just ten points in the game.
On the other end of the court, Bowman combined with Connor Ducklow to account for 39 of the Cardinals’ 52 points. Bowman finished with 14 points. But, it was Ducklow that did the most offensive damage as he scored a game-high 25 points, 14 of which came in the second half, on seven two-point baskets, a triple and an 8-for-9 performance at the free throw line.
Elk Mound hit just five hoops including a Cale Knutson three in the first half but hit all nine of its free throw attempts to trail Spring Valley by just four, 24-20, at intermission.
The Mounders did heat up from behind the three-point arc in the second hitting on four – two by Ryan Bartig and one each from Russo and Ethan Johnson.
Elk Mound scored 26 in the final 18 minutes but Spring Valley netted 28, half of which came off the hands of Ducklow as the Cardinals were able to hold off the Mounders for the six-point win.
Russo was the only Mounder to score double digits with ten. Johnson added nine points, Bartig finished with eight, and Aiden Bartholomew tallied six.
Ducklow and Bowman also led the Cardinals rebounding effort with seven apiece. Bowman also added four assists and three steals.
Elk Mound hit nine of its 12 free throws while Spring Valley finished 16-for-26.
Elk Mound, currently in fourth place with a 4-3 mark in the D-SC and 9-6 overall following the loss, played St. Croix Central in Hammond Monday evening and will return home Thursday to host third-place Elmwood/Plum City.