RIVER FALLS, Wis.-- It was a battle of the Big Rivers Conference unbeatens Friday night, Jan. 10, in Eau Claire, and when the dust settled the River Falls girls were all alone in first place after a 63-59 double overtime victory over Eau Claire Memorial.
The win was the ninth straight for the Wildcats and left them all alone in first place in the BRC at 5-0 (10-2 overall). Eau Claire Memorial, who came into the game undefeated at 7-0 overall, slipped to 3-1 in conference play.
River Falls coach Ian Sticht said it was one of the best high school games he’s ever been part of.
““It was the most complete team win we have had all year,” he said. “Truly, it was a great high school basketball game and will be one I never forget.”
River Falls led by five at the break, 29-24, but needed a full-court layup from Kylie Strop and a Strop dish to Rachel Randleman at the end of regulation to tie the score 49-49 and force overtime.
Strop fouled out early in the first overtime after registering 20 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals, but Jordan Szymanski stepped in to run the offense and Randleman hit a three to tie the game again. Taylor Weick’s 3-pointer off the jump ball to start the second overtime set the tone and the Wildcats never trailed again.
Randleman and Taylor Kasten finished with 11 points each in the win, Abby Doerre scored ten and Weick had eight. Kasten and Doerre also pulled down six rebounds apiece and Doerre added seven assists while Szymanski came up with three steals.
The Wildcats started the week with a pair of nonconference wins, beating New Richmond 49-34 Monday night in New Richmond and Baldwin-Woodville 46-32 Tuesday night at home.
Monday night in New Richmond, in their first game in 18 days, the Wildcats fell behind 14-9 early before closing the half with a 14-2 run to take a 23-16 lead at the break. River Falls never let New Richmond get any closer than nine in the second half.
“New Richmond has played really well so far this year and we knew it was an important game for seeding purposes,” Sticht said. “Taylor’s ability to finish inside and Abby’s mid-range game were huge.”
Kasten led the Wildcats with 16 points on 8 of 11 shooting from the field, all in the paint, while Doerre was all over the floor, finishing with 12 points, seven rebounds, six assists, six steals and two blocked shots. Strop led the Cats with eight rebounds and eight assists in addition to scoring eight points.
“Defensively, Kylie did a great job of containing their point guard so they couldn’t really get in a flow offensively,” Sticht said. “Abby once again proved what a good defender she has worked to become by limiting their leading scorer, Jessica Hagman, to nine points.”
As a team, the Wildcats registered 15 assists on 19 field goals and outrebounded the Tigers 30-23.
The Wildcats duplicated that assist to field goal ratio Tuesday night against Baldwin-Woodville with Doerre and Strop combining for 11 of the team’s 15 assists. Strop led all scorers with 22 points and came up one rebound short of a double-double with nine boards while Randleman scored 11 points.
“Yough to play two games in a row to start the week, especially coming back from break like that,” Sticht said. “I thought Baldwin did a great job of running their zone. We didn’t hit shots early and then started to force some things. I should have made some adjustments earlier to how we were attacking and when we finally did, we started getting better looks. We certainly didn’t play our best but we made plays when we needed to.”
After visiting La Crosse Central for a nonconference game Tuesday, Jan. 14, the Wildcats return to BRC action at home against Chippewa Falls (7-6, 3-2) Friday night, Jan. 17.