RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- River Falls boys’ basketball coach Zac Campbell liked the way his team started out in its two games last week, he just wants to see them keep their foot on the pedal.

The Wildcats went on a 25-0 first-half run and led by 20 at the break, 39-19, at Division 2’s fourth-ranked Medford Tuesday night, Jan. 26, but had to hang on at the end for a 60-53 victory. Friday night at home against Tomah, the Cats saw an early 16-point lead whittled to nine at the break and trailed by two with two minutes remaining before closing the game with a 9-2 run to post a 60-53 victory to improve to 13-2 on the season.

“I'm extremely proud of the way we started both of these games in attacking the way we want and playing with the energy our program is accustomed to,” Campbell said. “However, we need to be better mentally in not allowing complacency to set in, which turned the tides of both games late in the first halves into the second halves.”

River Falls’ senior JT Dougherty puts up a shot over Tomah’s Zander Williams in the first half of the Wildcats’ 60-53 victory over the Timberwolves Friday night, Jan. 29, in River Falls. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia
River Falls’ senior JT Dougherty puts up a shot over Tomah’s Zander Williams in the first half of the Wildcats’ 60-53 victory over the Timberwolves Friday night, Jan. 29, in River Falls. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia

Friday against Tomah, the Cats led 19-3 early and 29-20 at halftime but found themselves trailing 51-49 with two minutes remaining before JT Dougherty hit a baby hook in the lane to tie the score. Following a stop at the other end, Zac Johnson hit a scoop shot to put the Wildcats back on top for good, 53-51.

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Johnson finished with 16 points and Dougherty had 14 while Michael Schurman finished with 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and five steals. Liam Dougherty contributed 10 points and seven rebounds while Chris Chapin added seven points, two assists and two steals.

“Tomah's combination of length and athleticism is probably as good as we've seen all year,” Campbell said. “As the game wore on they were able to ball pressure us out of our actions and in turn we were not able to put pressure on the rim. Michael Schurman continues to control us defensively to complement his strong assist/turnover ratio he routinely turns in.”

Last Tuesday at Medford, Johnson led the Wildcats with 28 points, including five 3-pointers, in addition to a team-high four assists and three steals while JT Dougherty posted a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Chapin finished with three 3-pointers to finish with nine points while Liam Dougherty added eight points, four boards and two blocked shots.

“This was a great road trip for us to take and learn some lessons while coming out with a win against the 4th ranked team in D2,” Campbell noted. “JT Doughterty had a great start to the game and rebounded extremely well for us on his way to a double-double.”

After a Big Rivers Conference showdown with Hudson Tuesday night, Feb. 2, at home, the Wildcats will host Rice Lake Saturday, Feb. 6, before wrapping up the regular season with a pair of road games at Chippewa Falls Tuesday, Feb. 9 and Eau Claire North Thursday, Feb. 11.