RIVER FALLS, Wis.-- It was a bittersweet night for River Falls’ junior Zac Johnson and the Wildcats Tuesday night at home against New Richmond.
Johnson became the sixth player in River Falls’ history to score 1,000 career points when he made a 3-pointer late in the first half, but New Richmond never trailed in the second half and got a double-double from Joey Kidder to post a 68-59 win.
The outcome could have sectional seeding implications as the Tigers improved to 15-2 overall while the Wildcats saw their seven game winning streak snapped to slip to 13-4.
“We didn’t have enough energy in the first half and you need energy in games like this,” Johnson said.
Johnson needed 15 points to reach the 1,000 mark and got there with a 3-pointer late in the first half to give the Wildcats a 32-31 lead, the ninth lead change of the game. He admitted the milestone was on his mind early.
“A little bit, yeah,” he said. “Because all of my teammates and friends were hyping me up. But all I really wanted was the win. This is a great accomplishment and it shows I’ve worked really hard, but I’d rather get the win.”
A layup by Johnson to start the second half cut gap to one, but the Tiger lead ranged from three to 10 the rest of the way. River Falls made things interesting in the final minute when Mike Johnson scored on a put-back, then came up with a steal leading to a 3-pointer by Zac Johnson to make it a five-point game, 64-59, with 30 seconds left but the Tigers’ broke the Wildcat press and got an easy layup by Owen Covey to put the game out of reach.
Kidder finished with 24 points, 20 rebounds and six assists to lead New Richmond while Jacob Parent contributed 15 points, Cooper Eral scored 12 and Covey finished with 10.
Zac Johnson, who finished with 26 points, said the Wildcats need to put Tuesday night’s loss behind them.
“We have a big game Friday against Rice Lake; just focus on that,” he said. “We have to put this in the past. Then we have first place Chippewa Monday, so that’s a big game too.”
The Wildcats trail Chippewa Falls by one game in the loss column in the Big Rivers Conference with a record of 5-2.
New Richmond, meanwhile, is tied for first place in the Middle Border Conference with Prescott at 9-1 and will host Amery Thursday night at 7:15.