DURAND — The weather changed the optics.
League-leading Colfax could no longer clinch the Dunn-St. Croix Conference title, and Durand couldn’t bring its magic number down to one entering Friday’s showdown. But this game would decide who would stay atop or join the top of the league.
The first matchup saw 16 lead changes before Kameri Meredith’s 30 points put Colfax all alone at the top of the league.
This time around, Durand rode a well-rounded effort to a 66-46 payback win to climb into a tie with the Vikings atop the conference standings.
The game started with a field goal from the defending co-conference player of the year, Emily Annis. Durand had its first lead of the game and it turned out to be the only lead change of the night.
From there the rest of Durand’s big three chipped in Hannah Prissel and a field goal before Emma Hansen and Julia Hayden both hit 3-pointers and all of a sudden Durand had a 14-2 lead prompting a timeout from Colfax coach Joe Doucette.
For Durand getting off to a quick start was important.
“That’s important in every basketball game, especially against Colfax,” said first year Durand head coach Darrin Loewenhagen “They do a really good job of keeping you contained.”
Durand used a quick pressing defense — and some key players coming back from injury after the first matchup — to limit the Vikings to just one field goal in the first 9:49.
“Hannah rolled an ankle in the first game in the first five minutes and she was basically not able to play,” said Lowenhagen. “The other thing was we had Brooke Polzer. She’s a really good defender for us.”
Colfax put together a run after the timeout with mix of Morgan Schleusner, Alyssa Dachel, Emma Hurlburt, Meredith and Rachel Scharlau all combining for a 10-1 run, bringing Colfax within 16-14 with 2:50 left in the first half.
Durand entered with half with a 24-17 lead which could have been a bad omen with the team leading at half going 0-6 in the last four years of this series. But Sarah Dunbar had other plans. The senior guard had two 3- pointers in the first minute of the second half to push the Panther lead to 27-17. Dunbar missed most of the first half in foul trouble, but was ready when the time came.
“The two fouls in the first half really gave me the ambition to fight foward,” said Dunbar.
Hurlburt hit back-to-back buckets and Meredith made a layup to bring Colfax within five, but Dunbar and Hayden hit consecutive 3-pointers to bring the lead up to 11 and that’s as close as Colfax would get.
The win puts Durand alongside Colfax at the top of the conference. The Panthers now have a heavy slate of games next week, with Bloomer today, Saint Croix Central at home before going to Boyceville on Tuesday and Elk Mound on Thursday. For Loewenhagen, he won’t have to change how he manages his players in game.
“We rotate eight, nine girls so with the style we play we kinda have to,” he said.
If Durand beats Saint Croix Central on Monday they will go unbeaten at home for the first time since 2014-15.
“Being a senior it would be really cool to be able to go undefeated,” said Dunbar.
For Colfax, they also have a heavy slate of games next week, playing host to Clear Lake on Tuesday before going to Boyceville and Mondovi. If the Vikings win their last two they will have their first D-SC title since 2014-15.
Durand 66, Colfax 46
Colfax: Alyssa Dachel 6, Morgan Schleusner 3, Kameri Meredith 12, Josie Steinke 4, Rachel Scharlau 6, Madison Barstad 5, Emma Hurlburt 10.
Durand: Julia Hayden 8, Emma Hansen 11, Hannah Prissel 9, Leah Sabelko 3, Brooke Polzer3, Emily Annis 19, Sarah Dunbar 10, McKenna Hurlburt 3.
3-pointers: Colfax 4 (Schleusner, Meredith, Steinke, Barstad) Durand 9 (Hayden 2, Hansen 2, Prissel, Dunbar 3 Polzer).
Halftime score: Durand 21-17.