The Elkhorn boys basketball team has enough weapons to turn heads on offense.
The Elks would much rather flash their defensive prowess.
On Friday night, especially for the first six minutes, they impressed at both ends.
Elkhorn scored the first 14 points and visiting Wilmot never got closer than nine the rest of the way. The Elks won 69-52 in a Southern Lakes Conference game between teams tied for second place coming into the night.
“They put up a lot of points, so we knew we were going to have to come out with a lot of energy,” said Elkhorn senior Vince Umnus, who led all scorers with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting. “We did that and got them right away.
“Our team, we really like defense a lot more than we like offense. It might not seem that way, but in practice we get after it on defense. We might foul a little more than we should, but we’re trying to cause a lot of havoc.”
The Elks, who received votes in this week’s wissports.com Division 2 coaches poll, have won four straight games and eight of their last nine. They are 11-2 overall and 5-1 in SLC play, a half game behind unbeaten Westosha.
Wilmot fell to 8-3 and 4-2.
“They bought into it,” Elkhorn coach Josh Skatrud said of his team’s defensive effort. “We played really well defensively last year, especially in the tournament win against these guys and against Union Grove and even during sectionals.
“We haven’t given up 60 points yet this year, so we really take a lot of pride in being tough and disciplined.”
The Elks gained full control in the opening minutes of the game.
Defensively, they held the Panthers without a point for the first 6 minutes, 32 seconds. Wilmot missed six field goal attempts and two free-throw tries and turned the ball over three times in that span.
“We were really disciplined the first few possessions and didn’t let any of their shooters loose,” Skatrud said. “I think we took them out of their rhythm, and I don’t think they ever got it into, because they can really score.”
Wilmot came into the game averaging 70 points, and its 52 matched a season low.
Elkhorn turned its defensive stops into points, making 7 of its first 10 attempts from the field, with six of those makes coming in the paint.
Wilmot closed the gap to 14-5, but that was the only time it was within single digits the rest of the night. The Elks led by 15 at halftime.
The Panthers got within 10, 40-30, with less than 11 minutes left. The Elks, who suffered through some second-half turnover issues, responded by scoring seven consecutive points.
It was 54-44 with about four minutes left, but Elkhorn again answered with five straight points.
Luke Umnus joined his twin brother in double figures, going 6 of 6 from the field and 3 of 3 from the line on the way to 15 points. Nick Brown added a dozen.
Vince Umnus said he and his teammates have had their sights set on a return to sectionals since they lost to Westosha by five in a sectional semi last year.
For now, though, the Elks are firmly in the Southern Lakes race as the league nears the midway point in the conference schedule.
“We’re trying to keep our conference championship hopes alive,” Umnus said. “We’ve got to win out to do that.”
The Elks host Burlington on Friday night.
ELKHORN 69, WILMOT 52
Wilmot (52)—Lamberson 1-1-4, Watson 1-2-4, Brenner 4-2-10, Glass 3-0-6, K. Sandman 3-3-11, Moravectz 2-0-4, Spath 2-2-6, Coleman 1-0-2, Lindsay 2-0-5. Totals: 19-10-52.
Elkhorn (69)—Johnson 2-0-5, Lauderdale 1-0-2, Larson 1-0-2, L. Umnus 6-3-15, Davey 3-2-8, V. Umnus 8-6-22, Brown 4-4-12, Van Dyke 1-0-3. Totals: 26-15-69.
Wilmot 21 31—52
Elkhorn 36 33—69
3-point goals—Wilmot 4 (K. Sandman 2, Lamberson, Lindsay), Elkhorn 2 (Johnson, Van Dyke). Free throws missed—Wilmot 10, Elkhorn 3. Total fouls—Wilmot 18, Elkhorn 19.