Durand (WQOW) -- For the first time since 2001, the Durand boys basketball team has advanced to play in a WIAA sectional.
After winning the Dunn-St. Croix Conference title, the Panthers entered the postseason as a 3-seed in Division 4. Their chances of advancing didn't look good Saturday at Eau Claire Regis, when Durand trailed by eight points at the break and by as many as ten in the second half. But the Panthers rallied to take the lead, and put the game away with some clutch free throw shooting late, which allowed the team to achieve one of its goals.
"You know, after last year's regional we, as a team, put a goal out there to get past that regional this year," says Durand head coach Justin Redetzke, "we knew it was going to be tough, but there wasn't somebody out there that we should feel as our team and the skill on our team that we should be afraid of, but everybody out there could beat us, too."
Redetzke thinks the win over the Ramblers should pay dividends for his team this week.
"It was a good feeling for them to say, 'hey, we're right there,we're right there to make that next step,' and it was really nice to see them do that against Regis. Now, it's [the state tournament] just two games away and who knows what could happen."
While Durand was defeating Regis, the #2 seed, 4th-seeded Melrose-Mindoro was winning at top-seeded Osseo-Fairchild, setting up a sectional semifinal between the Panthers and the Mustangs. It'll be a contrast of styles in that matchup. Durand likes to play a trapping defense and an up-tempo offense, featuring an eight-player rotation in which all eight average between five and eleven points per game. Melrose-Mindoro also features balanced scoring, although with a size advantage over the Panthers, the Mustangs will generally prefer a slower pace.
"They're a little bigger than us and they'll try to pound it down low like they've been doing to everybody all year, so they'll probably try to slow it down and try to take advantage of their height a little bit," says Redetzke, "I think both teams are kind of showing their hand both ways throughout the year, so they know what we've got, I'm sure, and we're getting to know what they've got, and I'm sure everybody's going to stick to their game plan, and try to stay out of foul trouble, we do a pretty good job of doing that even though we're playing the whole length of the court, but that'll be big for us, trying to make it an up-tempo game."
Durand vs. Melrose-Mindoro is set for 7:00 P.M., Wednesday, at Altoona. The game was moved up one day because the Melrose-Mindoro girls team is playing Thursday night at the state tournament.