Both the Hudson and River Falls boys’ basketball teams picked up key Big Rivers Conference victories last week, with the Raiders putting away Chippewa Falls 81-62 Friday at home and the Wildcats avenging an early-season loss to Eau Claire Memorial Friday night at home before blowing out Rice Lake the next day on the road.
Hudson currently sits atop the BRC standings with a record of 7-2 (10-3 overall) while River Falls is even in the loss column and a half-game back at 6-2 (11-2).
The Wildcats will take a break from conference action this week with a road game at Medford Tuesday, Jan. 26, and a home game against Baldwin-Woodville Friday, Jan. 29, while Hudson has a nonconference home game against St. Croix Central Tuesday, Jan. 26 before a road game at Eau Claire Memorial Friday, Jan. 29.
The Raiders and Wildcats are set to square off Tuesday, Feb. 2, in River Falls.
River Falls turns tables on ECM
The Wildcats’ two losses this season have come at Eau Claire Memorial Dec. 22, and at Hudson Jan. 11. They evened the score with the Old Abes by leading wire-to-wire Friday night, Jan. 22, in a 66-49 win.
Zac Johnson finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists and Michael Schurman had 20 points and six steals while JT and Liam Dougherty combined for 10 points and 17 rebounds.
“Michael Schurman has been playing at a very high level and played his best game of the season Friday night,” Wildcat coach Zac Campbell said. “He has great tools and a mindset that allows him to be a lockdown defender. He totaled 16 different deflections on the defensive end Friday night; that's him getting a touch on a ball about one in every three possessions, which is a ridiculous number and changes the complete flow of the game.”
Less than 24 hours later the Wildcats boarded a bus for Rice Lake and ran the Warriors out of their own gym in an 80-36 victory.
“I am extremely proud of our effort at Rice Lake as we were able to carry over and sustain the activity that we had Friday evening,” Campbell said. “Rice Lake is a scary team as they shoot the ball so well and play such a fast pace offensively. Inside-out balance is always something we strive for and we were able to establish that, which led to quality looks outside in our best shooting performance of the year.”
The Wildcats shot 60 percent from the field (31-of-52), with Johnson hitting 14-of-19 shots, including six 3-pointers, on his way to a 36-point afternoon. Liam Dougherty was 7-of-9 from the field and finished with 15 points while Chris Chapin hit four 3-pointers and contributed 14 points. Cole Frisch made two 3-pointers and Jacob Landgraf hit one as the Wildcats made 13 3-pointers in the game.
“Liam Dougherty is finishing at a ridiculously high rate and when we have guys like Chris Chapin, Jacob Landgraf, and Cole Frisch knocking down perimeter shots we have the ability to put defenses in tough spots,” Campbell noted.
Schurman pulled down a team-high eight rebounds and dished out eight assists and Liam Dougherty, Landgraf and Victor Bye pulled down six rebounds each as the Wildcats outrebounded the Warriors 44-15.
Campbell said the Wildcats will have their work cut out for them when they return to conference play against Hudson Tuesday.
“Our league is an absolute battle,” he said. “To put our league in perspective, the fourth place team in our league beat the top Wisconsin Valley school by 20-plus points this past week. The sixth place team in our league just beat the second place Mississippi Valley team by 19 this past week. The last place team in our league just had a 40point win. Every team in our league has a .500 or above record in the non conference this year. We are extremely fortunate to play in such a quality league as it requires us to be at our best every night.”
Hudson pushes win streak to 10
Hudson’s 81-62 victory over Chippewa Falls Friday night was its 10th straight win after opening the season with three losses.
Luke Healy poured in 40 points and made four steals on defense while Brandon Moeri hit five 3-pointers to finish with 15 points and pulled down a team-high six rebounds. Carter Herink added 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field while John Wicther dished out eight assists.
The Raiders shot 57 percent from the field, including 10-of-16 from 3-point range, and had 25 assists on 33 field goals while turning the ball over just six times.
“Twenty-five assists and six turnovers is a really good number and we were sharp all around on offense,” Raider coach John Dornfeld noted. “I loved our work on defense too.”
Earlier in the week Healy had 24 points and six assists in a 58-45 nonconference victory at Mound Westonka (Minn.). Moeri contributed seven points and eight rebounds while Witcher had five points and six boards.
The Raiders jumped out to an early 17-2 lead and led 30-15 at the break before Mound cut it to 13 at the end.
“We played well on the defensive side of things but we were not happy with our offensive performance, primarily because of the number of turnovers we had, season high 22 and honestly most were unforced,” Dornfeld said. “We just were not sharp with our ball handling and passing.”