The Colfax boys basketball team has started conference competition off on the right foot. Despite a bumpy start to the season, losing three consecutive nonconference games to Ellsworth, Thorp and McDonell Central, the Vikings have used those games to learn from their mistakes and ensure they write down wins in the books where it really counts.
In a strong performance on Tuesday, the Vikings secured their fourth consecutive win, a 51-42 victory, over Spring Valley at Colfax High School. The win sets them at 2-0 in the Dunn-St. Croix (DSC) Conference, currently knotted at the top with Glenwood City and Durand.
On the night, Colfax faced a Spring Valley team coming off two nail-biting losses against Glenwood City (42-43) and Osseo-Fairchild (60-62). It was a strong clash for both halves and transformed into a highly defensive battle.
Much of the performance came down to the leaders on each team. Spring Valley was counting on strong play from seniors Tyson Kado and Zack Williams as well as junior Dylan Bosshart. On the other end of the court, Colfax has found durable leadership from a set of juniors: Ben Thompson and George Scharlau.
Much of the first half consisted of resilient defense from both teams. The Vikings worked the ball inside and pounded the paint, often racking up a myriad of rebounds in the process. They occasionally found success from the arc as well, with Scharlau, junior Jackson Hellmann and sophomore Noah Albricht all contributing one 3-pointer apiece. Thompson and Scharlau’s combined 12 points lifted the Vikings to a two possession, 25-21 halftime lead.
Spring Valley’s first half success came at the wings, with ball screen give and go’s that created opportunity after opportunity near the basket as well as the occasional three pointer. Notably, the Vikings had done an excellent job shutting down Dylan Bosshart, who came up empty handed. Two Cardinals came off the bench to each contribute one 3-pointer.
While neither team’s shot percentage was going to break any records, the difference in the game came down to second chance opportunities at the glass. While rebound totals were nearly even to begin the game, by the end of the first half it was clear the Vikings were beginning to substantially out-rebound the Cardinals.
With nine minutes remaining in the second half, the Vikings now led the Cardinals 39-27. Soon after, hall of fame coach Rob Bosshart re-engineered the team tactics to mount an attempted comeback.
Moving into a full court press, Bosshart’s team was initially successful at pressuring Scharlau, which led to a swing in the game and the Cardinals finding some new energy. In quick succession, sophomore Aaron Borgerding made a three and pressured the inbound which led to a steal and a quick bucket, a five point swing in three seconds. However, Colfax coach Garrett Maas adjusted in time to the press and, with leadership from Scharlau, the Vikings settled into a rhythm once again.
With 1:25 left in the half, the game was still within reach at 47-40. Here the use of the press soon let the Cardinals down as the players wore down near the end of the game. A clutch three pointer by junior Luke Heidorn and constant interior points from Thompson forced the Cardinals to foul to keep the clock from expiring. The Vikings shot well from the line and the game ended with a final margin of nine points.
While coach Maas noted the game did not feature their best shooting performance so far this season, they managed to find ways to score at the most crucial of moments.
“Our length gave them a lot of issues,” he said. “George Scharlau did an outstanding job, despite being sick, of holding their best player to zero points. We also played our best team defense of the year.”
Thompson ended with 20 points on the night and Scharlau had fourteen, accounting for two-thirds of the Vikings’ points overall. Albrict chipped in five, senior Treyton Teige and Heidron added four and Hellman and sophomore Ed Hydukovich rounded out scoring with three and one point, respectively.
Spring Valley’s Kado end the night with fifteen, Williams and Borgerding each had nine, and Stangl, Walkky, as well as senior Craigen Anderson, each finished the night with three.
Colfax will test their abilities as they meet with conference rival Elk Mound (2-4, 1-1) Friday at home.