COLFAX — In a physical, low-scoring game that came down to the final possession rebounding was key.
One team gave themselves second chances and they came out on top.
The Bloomer boys basketball team was unable to secure two free throw misses needed to get the final shot in a nonconference 47-44 loss to Colfax on Saturday night.
The Blackhawks (12-4) were forced to foul after Austin Thur was unable to connect on a three-pointer trailing by one with about 15 seconds left in the game. In the bonus Colfax’s Zach Rindy missed the first free throw attempt, but the Vikings secured the board and headed back to the line.
Another miss in the bonus was grabbed by Ben Thompson for Colfax (15-1) and he made a shot in the lane and time expired before the Blackhawks could get another shot off.
“We just wanted to be physical and they’re a very physical team and I didn’t think we matched their physicality early,” Colfax coach Garrett Maas said, “and I thought by evidence of those two offensive rebounds we matched them better later in the game.”
Tied at 44 in the final two minutes, the Blackhawks tried to maintain possession for the remainder of the game and look for the final shot late. Instead Bloomer turned the ball over.
“We wanted out kids to play aggressively on the offensive end of the floor and they did the last several possessions of the game, and on the defensive end of the floor,” Bloomer coach Greg Van Grunsven said. “For whatever reason, things didn’t go our way.”
The Vikings tried a similar strategy but found more success as Thompson drove the lane and was fouled. With 29 seconds to go in the game, he split his two free throws giving Colfax a 45-44 edge.
Bloomer jumped out to a quick lead going up 19-10 over the first nine minutes. After Colfax’s George Scharlau connected from deep on two early possessions, Van Grunsven changed his defense to a box-and-one with a defender tasked with following Scharlau around.
“To make their second and third options take a more prominent role in the game (was the plan),” Van Grunsven said said of the change in the defense, “and I think for the most part we did that.”
Scharlau was held without another field goal the remainder of the game, while making all four free throw attempts he had as Bloomer stayed in the same defense the rest of the way.
“Early I didn’t think we were moving very well, but we got better flashes to the middle after a couple timeouts,” Maas said. “George I thought did a really good job, he didn’t panic.”
John Bleskacek led the first half charge for the Blackhawks making five first-half 3-pointers as Bloomer headed into the break up 28-24.
“Our offense isn’t dictated on getting any one person shots,” Van Grunsven said. “We had others step up in the second half and opportunities and took advantage of them. Johnny had a terrific first half and it just shows you how unselfish that he is to get others involved.”
A 3-pointer from Caleb Ruf and a free throw from Bradley Sarauer gave the Blackhawks a 34-27 advantage 5:30 into the second half. The combination of Thompson and Ed Hydukovich scored 14 points during a 14-6 run for Colfax to take its first lead of the game at 41-40 with 4:51 to go in the game.
After Sarauer scored inside to grab the lead back, Luke Heidorn connected on shot from deep to go up two.
Bleskacek scored his only two points of the second half with a steal and break away to tied the game at 44 with three minutes to play.
“Ultimately things didn’t go our way the last few several minutes of the game,” Van Grunsven said.
Bleskacek scored 17 points to lead Bloomer. Zach Ruf had nine and Sarauer had five with a team-high eight rebounds.
Thompson led Colfax with 15 and Hydukovich scored 12. Scharlau joined them in double figures with 10.
“A game like this is very key for this time of year,” Maas said. “I told the boys after the game that was a playoff game atmosphere. We battled through it and found a way to win. You’re going to have to do that in the playoffs at some point.”
Bloomer plays at Barron on Thursday before a nonconference home game with McDonell on Saturday. Colfax has three Dunn-St. Croix Conference games this upcoming week beginning on Monday at Elk Mound.