After four consecutive losses, the Elk Mound boys basketball team broke the dry spell on its home court with a sound 79-58 victory over Boyceville (1-3, 0-2) Tuesday.
It was clear the Mounders (2-4, 1-1) were hungry for a win, especially after a tough 51-26 loss to Bloomer (2-0) during the Northwest Tipoff Classic Saturday at UW-Stout.
“We just tried to preach energy, energy energy,” Elk Mound head coach Mike Kessler said following the game. “This group practices hard but we haven’t been playing hard, which is the exact opposite of what we normally would see, so I’m really happy for them to finally see their hard work at practice pay off and let people see what they’re capable of doing.”
Many of the game’s first half points were made from second or third chance opportunities. Elk Mound’s Ryan Mohr started the game off with a 3-point basket off an offensive rebound grabbed and kicked out by Ben Lambele. But Boyceville’s Luke Knudtson answered right back with his own offensive rebound at the net for two.
Elk Mound’s Marcus Kinblom set the Mounders ahead slightly with a pair of 2-pointers to take a 10-6 lead at 12:54 on the clock. Boyceville’s Bryce Boda brought the Bulldogs back within one point with a long shot from beyond the arc.
However, Elk Mound’s Logan Berg canceled that out with a perimeter shot of his own, which was followed up with a 2-pointer by Mohr. Now down by six, Knudtson powered through for a pair of field goals to cut the Mounders’ lead to two. But that was as close as Boyceville would get to catching up to Elk Mound.
A drive to the net from Elk Mound’s Blake Rosenthal prompted a 17-0 run. Lambele, responsible for 12 of those 17 unanswered points, used his height and strength to power up through the Bulldog defense to score five contested field goals under the net. Curry added a 3-pointer during the Mounder’s run and Lambele rounded it out with a pair of charity shots.
While up a comfortable 32-13, Elk Mound knows that no lead is safe. The Bulldogs finally broke their silence with a trip to the free throw line where Boda sank one of his two freebies. But Elk Mound answered with an 11-point run, including a pair of 3-pointers from Curry and Lambele and a returned steal for two by Berg. Conner Mavis came off the bench, where he posted up and concluded the Elk Mound with with a 2-point basket.
Boyceville’s Cooper Boesl broke up the Elk Mound run with a 2-pointer at the net. Knudtson added the next four points for the Bulldogs, but that’s all the points they would add for the remainder of the half. Berg wrapped up the half with a 3-pointer, followed up with a field goal. Boyceville’s Bryce Boda managed to snag a steal, but was unable to make the basket and they trailed the Mounders 48-20 at halftime.
The Bulldogs came out in the second half with renewed energy. They went on their first scoring stretch of the game, using Knudtson to lead a 13-4 run. Knudtson was responsible for eight of those 11 points, all coming from the inside. Jaden Reismer added a 2-point basket to spark the run and Boda rounded out with a nicely arced 3-point shot.
“I told the guys at halftime that I don’t care what the score is at the end of the game, I just want you guys to play hard and play together,” Boyceville head coach Ben Luer said.
Boyceville certainly did just that. They continued their disruption of the Elk Mound offense, using a string of inbound steals to cap off another six consecutive points. Though the Bulldogs used a rotation of players to keep up with the deep Mounder roster, it was too steep of a slope to climb out of and Elk Mound was able to maintain a roughly 20-point lead for the remainder of the game.
Both teams hit double bonus territory in the last seven minutes of regulation, where Elk Mound went 8-for-16 and Boyceville rounded out at 4-for-7.
Lambele ended the night with a team high of 26 points. He shot 9-for-14 from the field, made three of his his five 3-point shots and went 5-for-7 at the free throw line.
“We rely on Ben to do a lot for us. He has been a big threat for us inside and outside, he has the skillset to do that and hopefully we can continue to try to utilize the skill he brings,” Kessler said.
Berg wrapped up his evening at 13 points for the Mounders, including three 2-pointers, two 3-pointers and one charity basket. Mavis came off the bench for nine points, sinking four at the post and one from the free throw line. Brandon Redwine came in at eight points, while Curry added six, Kinblom chipped in five, Rosenthal added one field goal and Nathan Schreiber, Coltan Ward and Dylan Black each contributed one freebie to complete a balanced offense.
For Boyceville, Knudtson held the game high of 27 points, scoring 13 2-pointers and one from the line. Boda and Boesl each added seven points apiece while Jayson Gonzales and Reismer chipped in five points each.
Although the loss was not close, coach Luer was pleased with how much of a fight they put up in the second half.
“They didn’t lose their confidence,” he said. “In the first half it looked like they were dead tired. I think by playing more guys it helped us have a better second half. They (Elk Mound) play a good game, they make a lot of threes and they’re a good team ... it’s going to be hard to beat them no matter what.”
Luer noted there are plenty of other games left to play in the conference and believes the Bulldogs are capable of coming away with some wins. One of those games was played Friday against the Wolves (3-3, 0-2) at Plum City and next week will kick off with a nonconference matchup at home against Turtle Lake (3-1).
Elk Mound met with Colfax (4-3, 2-0) for a good old fashioned DSC rivalry match Friday at Elk Mound High School and returns to action Thursday for a nonconference contest against the Panthers (1-1) at St. Croix Central High School.