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by Marlys Kruger
After winning three straight games against Dunn-St. Croix Conference teams a week earlier, the Colfax boys had high hopes of making it four straight conference wins when they hosted the Mondovi Buffaloes January 26. Things didn’t go as planned however as they dropped the contest 56-51 in a hard fought battle.
And just 24 hours later, the Vikings played perhaps their strongest basketball game of the season defensively when they traveled to Osceola and lost to the state-ranked Chieftains 53-48. Colfax is now 9-6 for the season and 4-4 in conference play.
Colfax has just one game this week as they host Durand Tuesday, January 31.
The Vikings had defeated the Buffaloes by 10 points back in early December in a rough and tumble contest, and it didn’t take long to see this would be another physical battle. Just about every point the Vikings scored other than free throws was highly contested by the Buffalo defense and they were held to just one made triple all game.
Jack Scharlau managed to hit a pair of buckets to start things off and Elijah Entzminger added another on a short jumper for a 6-4 Colfax lead. Entzminger scored from the lane to make it 8-8 but the Buffaloes went on an eight point run to go up 16-8 before a Scharlau free toss and two by Entzminger closed the gap.
Nick Jensen got into the Colfax scoring action with a shot in the paint but Mondovi held a 10-point advantage at 23-13 in part by forcing turnovers and turning them into quick points. Kyle Irwin drove end to end for a layup, Jensen dropped in a free throw and Entzminger hit from the top of the key to cut the Buffalo lead to 26-18. Aiden Fischer finally found a little room and drained the only triple of the game for the Vikings and another jumper from Entzminger, a free toss from Jensen and yet another deuce by Entzminger with a drive in the lane made it 32-26 in Mondovi’s favor at the half.
Entzminger was pretty much unstoppable in the second stanza with at least four different Mondovi players trying to shut him down. He started the second half like he ended the first on a fast break layup. Scharlau hit a pair of free tosses to get Colfax within two points but Mondovi added their own deuce. Scharlau battled for his own rebound and dropped the ball in the hoop and hit the free throw to go with it, and yet another Entzminger shot from the top of the lane on a Scharlau assist put Colfax up 35-34.
Mondovi took the lead back on a pair of shots in the lane but another jumper from Entzminger was followed by two Fischer free throws which tied the game and put the Vikings back up 39-38. All the rest of the Viking points came from Entzminger and Scharlau as Colfax held leads of 41-38 and 43-40 before they hit a cold streak offensively. The Buffaloes pulled ahead 48-45 before Entzminger drove the baseline for another deuce and yet again, Mondovi went up by four at 51-47 with 3:35 to go.
Entzminger scored from his favorite spot on the night, the top of the key, and after Scharlau drove end-to-end for a layup, he was pretty much stampeded by a herd of Buffalo and the men in stripes decided it was a pretty clean play which caused Scharlau to miss the shot, and not get a foul called. Scharlau brushed it off however, as he brought Colfax to within two at 51-49 and 20 seconds later to within a point, down 52-51 with around 30 seconds to go. Colfax coach Mark Noll called a timeout and the play set up never got started as the in-bounds pass was intercepted.
Colfax had committed their seventh foul, resulting in Mondovi getting to the charity stripe where they canned a pair of free throws The Vikings had another chance to tie the game but yet another in-bounds pass was off the mark and Mondovi put the game away with two final free tosses.
Entzminger finished with 24 points on 11 shots around the lane and two free throws while Scharlau added 16 points with six deuces and four free throws. Colfax hit 10-of-15 free tosses and committed 15 fouls. Three-sport super athlete Jarod Falkner, finally a senior, scored 18 points to lead the Buffaloes who were 12-of-15 from the charity stripe without a triple. They committed 12 fouls in the contest.
According to Wissports.net, the Chieftains are ranked number 5 in Division 3 due to their 16-0 record. They lead the Middle Border Conference at 8-0 and are led by Brayden Bradway who averages 23 points a game along with 6 foot 10 inch Carson Hollman.
The Vikings managed to hold both of them in check however, as Hollman scored just 13 points in the contest with Jensen guarding him and Bradway finished with just 10 points with Scharlau keeping an eye on him most of the game. The Vikings actually led 23-21 at the intermission led by Entzminger scoring seven points, Blake Johnson five, Jensen four, Scharlau three and Fischer and Colton Hoffman both two.
Fischer was hot as a pistol in the second half with a trio of triples while Entzminger added eight points and Scharlau seven as they were the only Vikings to put points up. The Chieftains had just enough to pull away at the end for the five-point victory. Colfax drained five treys but the big story was at the charity stripe as the Vikings had just three attempts, making two of them while Osceola knocked down 10-of-17 shots from the stripe with three triples in the game.
“I was extremely proud of our effort tonight,” coach Noll said. “We held their leading scorer to 13 points under his average and their 6’10” player to just 13 points. All of our kids played their role tonight against a very big team and we held them to their lowest point total of the season,” he added.