Energy was the key ingredient missing from the Elk Mound boys’ basketball team Tuesday night against the Spring Valley Cardinals.
That is what head coach Mike Kessler said about the Mounder’s 63-41 home-court loss to the Cardinals (13-9, 8-6).
“For us all year long it’s boiled down to energy ... when we have it, we look good; when we don’t have it, we don’t look so good. We are doing our best to get it to come out and some nights it’s better than others.”
A lack of energy on the defensive end carried over to the offense end where Elk Mound (9-13, 7-7) had trouble connecting on many of their shots and failed to recover rebounds.
Blake Rosenthal opened up scoring with a triple on Elk Mound’s first possession, but it was the only lead of the game they would hold, as Spring Valley answered with a pair of 2-pointers, followed up with a 3-pointer to go up 7-3.
The Mounders caught up slightly with two field goals from Ryan Mohr, but the Cardinals pulled ahead to a commanding 23-7 lead on an unanswered 14-point run. Elk Mound had a chance to break that lead on a trip to the free throw line, but could not connect on either opportunity, remaining scoreless for a five-minute stretch.
Elk Mound finally broke Spring Valley’s run with a double from Mohr which was answered by a Cardinal layup accompanied by a foul to add three points to the board.
In the last five minutes of the first half, Ben Lambele got into a scoring rhythm, putting in seven of the Mounder’s final 10 points before the break and entered halftime trailing the Cardinals 32-19.
Lambele came out in the second half with a bit of a spark, draining two doubles on his own offensive rebounds. However, Spring Valley hit a pair of triples and a double to make it 40-25 with 14:48 left to go.
Elk Mound found Brandon Redwine under the net for three 2-pointers, one of which was a result of a steal from Lambele. A second steal from Lambele on Spring Valley’s next possession gave Dylan Black his first two points of the night and the Mounders had rallied back within eight points at 42-34 with 11:45 on the clock.
But that’s as close as Elk Mound would get, as Spring Valley went on their second run of the game, pounding the paint for six layups, a triple and another six points on free throws to complete a 21-7 run to close out the game.
“We made a little run at the end of the first half that I thought we strung together a couple stops, and good things happened for us,” Kessler said. “Then we came out of the gate in the second half and ... got back within eight, but we could never really get over the hump after that.”
Lambele was the only Mounder to score double figures, ending the night with 15 points. He threw in for six 2-pointers and one 3-pointer. Redwine followed Lambele with seven points, Mohr added six, Black chipped in four points and Dylan Curry, Brett Lew and Jake Mentzel finished with two points apiece.
The Mounders shot just 3-for-9 at the free throw line while the Cardinals went 6-for-7.
On Thursday, Elk Mound hosted the Mondovi Buffaloes (13-9, 7-7) for the regular-season closer where they fell by just three points in a narrow 63-60 loss.
Curry led in scoring for the Mounders with 15 points while Lambele and Mohr followed in double figure territory with 11 points apiece.
Elk Mound earned a No. 7 seed and will meet with No. 10 Fall Creek (6-16) at Elk Mound High School Tuesday in the first round of the WIAA Division 4 Regional playoff. The winner of Tuesday’s game will face No. 2 Regis (17-5) in the quarterfinal on Friday, March 2 at Regis High School.