Eau Claire Regis took full advantage of its bye Tuesday night.
The Ramblers came into Friday rested and ready. Second-seeded Regis was well-prepared for Elk Mound’s triangle-and-two defense. And it didn’t take long for the Ramblers’ high-powered backcourt to shoot it into the scrapheap.
Keelin Norman-Klatt scored 27 points and the rest of the Regis guards held up their end of the bargain to set the tone for a 69-41 victory over seventh-seeded Elk Mound in the WIAA Division 4 boys basketball regional semifinals Friday night.
“We got to have a few days of practice in a row working against every defense we knew they could throw at us,” Norman-Klatt said.
The Mounders came out in an inverted triangle-and-two with chasers on Norman-Klatt and Carter Brown. Cade Osborn and Trenton Cronk quickly ensured that defense would not be viable for long.
Osborn scored eight quick points and Cronk added a bucket off dribble penetration, forcing Elk Mound to switch defenses. By that point, it was 12-1 and Regis was in rhythm and on its way to the regional finals. The Ramblers host third-seeded Durand at 7 p.m. today.
“Defensively I thought we had a lot of energy and got hands up,” Elk Mound coach Michael Kessler said. “They just hit a lot of shots. At the end of the day, that’s what it boils down to.”
Osborn, despite battling a migraine, turned in one of his best games of the season. He knocked down four 3-pointers and scored 16 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists.
Cronk had five important early points and finished with seven. Brown hit two of Regis’ 12 3s.
Norman-Klatt, meanwhile, was his usual prolific self. He’s scored at least 20 points in all but two games this season. He’s on a run of five consecutive games with at least 26. That sort of backcourt makes Regis a dangerous team in a difficult-to-predict half of the Division 4 sectional.
“In the tournament, you have to have guys that can put the ball in the basket,” Regis coach Bill Uelmen said. “If you’ve got some scorers and you’ve got guard play, you can play with a lot of people.”
Blake Rosenthal scored 18 points to lead the Mounders (10-14), who played the Ramblers (18-5) to within three points early in the season and came in with a lot of confidence on the heels of a 72-63 win over Fall Creek on Tuesday night.
Ben Lambele, who had 31 points Tuesday, worked hard to get nine points and eight rebounds Friday night. Regis’ 2-3 zone collapsed on him with every touch.
“I just liked the way we came out,” Uelmen said. “We concentrated on what we had to do.”
The Ramblers won’t be nearly as rested for tonight’s regional final. On a one-day turnaround, they’ll face Durand, the Dunn-St. Croix champion. The Panthers aren’t an unknown quantity, though. Regis beat Durand 69-52 on Jan. 8. This time around, the stakes are just a bit higher.
“Durand’s a team we’ve already played this year and we play every year in nonconference,” Norman-Klatt said. “So we kind of know what to expect.”