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by Marlys Kruger
COLFAX — In their first game of the 2022-23 season, the Colfax boys’ basketball team nearly gave up a 13-point lead before holding on for a 45-40 win over the Thorp Cardinals in the Vikings’ gym November 22.
After the Cardinals started the game with a bucket, the Vikings scored five points off a Blake Johnson triple and a pair of free throws by Elijah Entzminger. A trey by the Cardinals knotted it at 5-5 but Nick Jensen scored from under the hoop to give the Vikings a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the game.
It stayed 7-5 for a long, long time as both teams struggled to hang onto the ball, resulting in several turnovers on both ends.
Aiden Fischer finally broke the spell with a triple from the corner, followed by another trey by Johnson off a slick assist from Kyle Irwin for a 13-5 Colfax advantage. Jensen scored on a put back, Johnson added a floater in the lane to make it 17-11 and Colton Hoffman pulled down a hard fought rebound and dished to Jensen for another bucket. Johnson assisted Entzminger on another triple for a 22-13 lead and Johnson knocked down a couple of free throws as the half ended with the Vikings up 24-17.
Colfax opened the second half with a five-point run on a Jensen free toss, a weaving layup through the lane by Entzminger and a bucket from Jensen and it was 29-17. After a Thorp deuce, Johnson drained a couple of free throws and Eli Ralph scored on a put back to give the Vikings their biggest lead of the game at 33-20.
The Vikings were scoring just enough to maintain a 7-11 point advantage with Hoffman connecting on a short jumper and scoring off an inbounds pass. Irwin drove to the hoop for two points and with the score 39-31 with around five minutes left in the contest, the Vikings went into a stalling offense to run time off the clock.
The Cardinals hit a triple and got within five points before Jensen dropped in 1-of-2 freebies for a 40-34 lead.
Another shot from long range by a Cardinal player dropped the Vikings lead to 40-37 with 2:07 on the clock. Irwin hit 1-of-2 free throws and after Thorp countered with the first of a one and one, the Cardinal player missed the second but they pulled down the rebound. Jensen came up with a tremendous block under the Thorp basket and the Vikings came away with the ball.
The game went down to free throws for Colfax as Irwin again made 1-of-2 and Entzminger went to the line and dropped in 1-of-2 himself. The Cardinals were not done, however as they canned another triple to cut the Colfax lead back to three points, but Entzminger drilled a pair of free throws with three seconds left to seal the deal.
Three players scored in double figures for Colfax with Johnson leading the team with 12 points while Entzminger and Jensen both scored 10. The Vikings made 13-of-21 free throws and canned four triples in the contest and Thorp knocked down seven shots from long range and hit 9-of-13 free throws.
Up next for Colfax is a game at Amery November 29 and a home game against Bloomer December 1.