For the second year in a row, the Colfax girls’ basketball team are regional champions.
A heartbreaking conference championship was lost to Durand on a buzzer beater on Feb. 15, but the Vikings (19-5) bounced back with a sound 48-34 victory over the Clear Lake Warriors (19-5) to hold the Division 4 Regional plaque proudly over their heads Saturday at Colfax High School.
“We’re excited to be regional champs again,” coach Joe Doucette said following the game. “We thought we were a little tight early, but we relaxed. Offensively, we weren’t great all night; we found just enough ways to score. Our ability to defend and do a great job on a pretty talented team was definitely the difference tonight.”
Coach Doucette referred to an extremely slow start offensively for the Vikings, scoring just one 2-point basket in the first nine minutes of regulation. However, the Warriors also had a little trouble finding the net on multiple possessions, scoring just three field goals and one of two freebies to hold a 7-2 lead with 9:30 on the clock.
Production finally broke open for Colfax as Kameri Meredith drained a 3-pointer, followed up with a field goal to knot the score at 7-7. Alyssa Dachel hit a triple of her own for the Viking’s first lead of the game at 7:07. But Colfax had gotten into some early foul trouble, sending Clear Lake to the line for their next three points.
Josie Steinke put the Vikings back up by three with a basket from the arc and the Warriors answered to knot the score once again with a pair of free throws and a 2-pointer.
Colfax’s Morgan Schleusner earned her first bucket of the night on a drive and Dachel followed up with her second triple of the first half for an 18-14 lead with just under two minutes until the break. As time ticked down, both teams wanted the final possession of the first half. After Clear Lake connected on a double with just 20 seconds left, Colfax’s Rachel Scharlau scored the final basket of the night on an assist from Dachel to secure a 20-16 advantage at halftime.
On a run
The Vikings hit the first basket of the second half, a 2-pointer under the net from Meredith. Clear Lake drove for their next two doubles, both accompanied by an extra point. Meredith followed suit, scoring her own layup with a drawn foul and adding the freebie.
A small 7-2 run for Colfax saw them extend their lead to 32-23 with 9:40 left on the clock. Though the Vikings had a strong defense, they again found themselves in foul trouble and Clear Lake now had the bonus where they added four points to cut Colfax’s lead down to 32-27.
But Savannah Henricks got on a hot streak, scoring three 2-pointers, including one on a long-ball inbound pass down court. The Vikings now had their first double digit lead of the game at 40-29, and with just over three minutes left to play, had Clear Lake on the ropes.
Forced to short possessions, the Warriors started shooting from the outside, hitting one triple to cut the lead to eight points. But that is as close as they would get as they sent Colfax to the line in bonus where the Vikings hit six of their six final freebies to close out the game.
Meredith ended the night with a game high of 21 points, more than Clear Lake’s two highest scorers, who had 10 points each. Meredith scored just five points in the first half but opened up in the second half for four doubles, one triple and all five of her charity shots.
Henricks and Dachel each finished up with eight points. Henricks threw in for four field goals, while Dachel drained two first half 3-pointers and added two points from the line in the second half.
Colfax will meet with Cameron (No. 4, 21-4) Thursday at New Richmond High School for the first round of sectional play.
“We feel we have a fighting chance on Thursday, and we’re just going to enjoy the heck out of it,” Doucette said.