HUDSON, Wis. -- Hudson’s boys basketball team shook off some rust from a two-week layoff and pulled away from Rice Lake in the second half for an 85-68 victory Tuesday night, Jan. 5, at home, before picking up a pair of road wins; 50-46 at Eau Claire North Friday, Jan. 8 and 71-38 Saturday, Jan. 9 at Marshfield.

Tuesday’s win over Rice Lake was only a two-point game at halftime, 37-35, and head coach John Dornfeld said the Raiders just seemed to be a step behind the Warriors in the first half.

“They were just kind of having their way with our defense,” Dornfeld noted. “They were really executing their motion offense and we were just a step slow and a little bit unaware. We weren't doing a good job of anticipating cuts and they just really shot it well.”

It was a 50-50 game early in the first half before Rice Lake hit a 3-pointer to take a 53-52 lead but Luke Healy gave the Raiders the lead for good with a steal and a layup and followed that up with a pair of free throws to put Hudson ahead 56-53 with 11 minutes, 18 seconds remaining.

Hudson junior John Witcher (23) snags a rebound before putting it back to extend the Raiders’ lead over Rice Lake to 76-56 with five minutes remaining Tuesday night, Jan. 5, in Hudson. Witcher finished with seven points in the Raiders’ 85-68 win. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia
Hudson junior John Witcher (23) snags a rebound before putting it back to extend the Raiders’ lead over Rice Lake to 76-56 with five minutes remaining Tuesday night, Jan. 5, in Hudson. Witcher finished with seven points in the Raiders’ 85-68 win. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia

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An Evan Tyler layup made it a 10-point game, 64-54, with nine minutes remaining and Colton Nelson knocked down a three with eight minutes left before a John Witcher put-back gave Hudson it’s biggest lead of the game, 76-56, with five minutes on the clock.

Healy led all scorers with 32 points, 17 in the first half, while Cole Jacobson hit 8-of-10 free throws to finish with 13. Tyler contributed eight points in the win and Nelson scored six, all from beyond the arc.

Dornfeld said the Raiders have shown steady improvement since their first game of the season, and a lot of that has to do with getting guys healthy.

“Evan Tyler, this is the first time he's played those kinds of minutes,” Dornfeld said about the junior who carried a lingering football injury into the start of the basketball season. “And Cole Jacobson, who had a great night tonight, this is his first game this year. He's probably got two weeks of practice under his belt and when the rest of these guys have six weeks.”

Friday night Witcher scored 14 points and Healy had 12 as Hudson overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to top Eau Claire North, 50-46, on the road.

Hudson trailed 29-22 at the break before outscoring the Huskies 28-17 in the second half.

Brandon Moeri contributed eight points and four steals in the victory and Jacobson had seven points and nine rebounds while Tyler scored six.

Healy scored 29 points in a little over a half Saturday in Marshfield as the Raiders won their fifth straight game after starting the season 0-3. Moeri and Nelson finished with eight points each and Witcher and Cash McConnell had five apiece as Hudson jumped out to a 44-22 halftime lead and never looked back.

Hudson will host Menomonie Friday, Jan. 15, before taking on Verona in the Midwest Players Classic Saturday, Jan. 16 in La Crosse.

River Falls wins twice on the road

It’s never easy to win on the road in the Big Rivers Conference, and fourth-ranked River Falls had to fight hard for a pair of road victories last week, holding off Eau Claire North for a 60-45 victory Tuesday night, Jan. 5, before coming from behind to beat Menomonie in overtime, 53-51, Friday, Jan. 8.

Chris Chapin converted a tip-in at the buzzer to force overtime, and Zac Johnson hit an 18-foot jumper with 1.5 seconds left in the extra session to lift River Falls to the two-point win at Menomonie. The Wildcats trailed by 10 at one point and were down 38-31 with just over two minutes left.

“It was a grind for sure,” Wildcat coach Zac Campbell said. “Menomonie is so tough to beat on their homecourt. They've already gotten both Hudson and Chippewa on that court. An achilles heel for us all year had been finding rhythm in our jumpers and thankfully that healed itself just at the right time as we did not play fundamentally on either end of the court.”

Down seven with two minutes left, Johnson tied the score at 40 with a jumper with 10 seconds remaining. A foul put Menomonie on the free throw line and they converted both shots with 7.6 seconds left to take a two point lead.

Johnson’s 3-point attempt for the win bounced off the rim but Chapin was there for the tip-in at the buzzer to send the game to overtime tied 42-42.

River Falls trailed in the extra session until Chapin got a steal and hit a 3-pointer at the other end to put the Wildcats up 51-49 at the one minute mark. Two more Menomonie free throws with 53 seconds left tied the score again before the Cats ran down the clock and won it with Johnson’s pull-up from 18-feet.

“Offensively we were not able to put pressure on the rim, whether that be through post entry, screen action, or dribble drive,” Campbell noted. “Menomonie forced us to keep the ball on the perimeter all night.”

Johnson, who had just three points in the first half, finished with 23 in addition to dishing out six assists. Jacob Landgraf scored nine in the win and Chapin and Liam Dougherty contributed seven points each while JT Dougherty had five points and seven rebounds.

Last Tuesday night at Eau Claire North, the Wildcats led 32-28 at the break before holding the Huskies to 17 points in the second half.

Johnson and Michael Schurman had identical stat lines with 16 points, five rebounds and three assists each and Chapin added 11 points, four assists and two steals while twins JT and Liam Dougherty combined for 11 points and seven rebounds.

“The Eau Claire North victory was a big one to get,” Campbell said. “They are one of the most fundamentally sound teams we have seen on film this year. What has been a strength of ours this year in making runs late in the first half and early in the second half was the difference in the game.”

The Wildcats will host Chippewa Falls Friday, Jan. 15, before facing Monona Grove at the Midwest Players Classic in La Crosse Saturday, Jan. 16.