HUDSON, Wis. -- Hudson’s girls basketball team is sharing the same goal as every other team in Wisconsin right now.

“Play games,” Raider coach Jess Vadnais said. “Just play games and take it one day at a time.”

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In a perfect world, Hudson would have much bigger long range goals. And why not? The Raiders return two first team All-Big Rivers Conference players and ten letterwinners from a team that went 17-6 a year ago and finished second in the BRC with a record of 10-2.

But that was before COVID. And as schools and communities continue to grapple with limiting the spread of the virus, this year’s Raiders aren’t taking anything for granted.

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“Any game that we can get is a blessing,” Vadnais said. “I tell the girls, just be grateful for every day you step on the court, even for practice. It’s just a phenomenal group, the way they've handled things. And it's a very mature, experienced group and it really shows with the way they’ve handled everything.”

That experience was on full display in Hudson’s season opener Tuesday night, Dec. 1, as the Raiders put up 80 points in a 12-point victory over defending Middle Border Conference champion Prescott.

Vadnais said considering all the COVID precautions, which includes masks and limited attendance, and the caliber of their opponent, she was very pleased with the Raiders first game of the season.

“First of all Prescott is really good,” she said. “I won't be surprised if they’re top 10 in Division 3. We didn't quite know how the masks were going to work and how the girls would adapt to them so I tried to use as many timeouts as I possibly could, while still having some if I needed them. So that's a little bit tough at times. But we scored 80, which is an impressive first game; it's impressive any game. We have some things to shore up but we'll work on that these next few days.”

Hudson senior Audrey Hatfield (32) beats Prescott’s Nicole Dalman for two of her 18 points in the Raiders’ 60-68 victory over the Cardinals Tuesday, Dec. 1, in Hudson. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia
Hudson senior Audrey Hatfield (32) beats Prescott’s Nicole Dalman for two of her 18 points in the Raiders’ 60-68 victory over the Cardinals Tuesday, Dec. 1, in Hudson. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia

The Raiders were led by their two returning all-conference first-teamers-- seniors Sophia Jonas and Audrey Hatfield. Jonas poured in 33 points, including five 3-pointers, while dishing out five assists and making five steals, while Hatfield finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots.

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Senior Livi Boily contributed 14 points and five assists as the Raiders finished with 24 total assists on 31 made field goals. Sophomore Grace Lewis added five points and four rebounds, senior Grace O’Brien had four points and five boards, and senior Grace Johnson chipped in four points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Hudson senior Grace Johnson (33) gets around Prescott’s Nicole Dalman in the second half of the Raiders’ 60-68 victory over the Cardinals Tuesday, Dec. 1, in Hudson. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia
Hudson senior Grace Johnson (33) gets around Prescott’s Nicole Dalman in the second half of the Raiders’ 60-68 victory over the Cardinals Tuesday, Dec. 1, in Hudson. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia

Vadnais said it was also weird playing in a nearly empty gym.

“it is really interesting because at first, I wasn't sure if they were going to be able to hear me with a mask,” she said. “And now, I find myself having to kind of dial it back sometimes because all of a sudden that gym is completely silent where there used to be that background noise and people going in and out. But we're just really, really grateful that our parents can be there. Each player gets two people, and we're just really grateful that at least they can come.”

The Raiders hit the road for their second game of the season Saturday night and came home with a 58-28 victory from Marshfield.

Lewis led a balanced Raider attack with 19 points and Jonas and Hatfield scored 10 points each while Boily scored seven. Hatfield and Johnson pulled down eight rebounds apiece while Jonas had six assists and four steals.

For now, Vadnais and the Raiders are just hoping they get to play their next game Tuesday, Dec. 8, at home against Ellsworth.

“I’m not gonna lie, it's tough,” the coach said. “But the coaching staff is making sure we all stay positive and the girls stay positive. We can have a game get canceled the same day, so it's really tough to try to prepare. But some of our conference schools aren't even practicing, so we're just going to take it a day at a time. That’s kind of our model right now.”