HUDSON, Wis. -- Hudson girls’ basketball coach Jess Vadnais was a junior guard for the Raiders the last time they won a regional championship in 2003. That was also the last year the Raiders qualified for the WIAA State Tournament.
It’s too soon to tell if history will repeat itself, but Hudson took care of the first half of that equation by blowing out Chippewa Falls and Menomonie last week to win their first regional title in 18 years.
The fifth-ranked Raiders rolled over Chippewa Falls 62-26 last Friday, Feb. 12, and took care of Menomonie 58-31 the next night to improve to 20-0 and move to within two victories of their first sectional title since Vadnais’ junior season.
But Vadnais and the Raiders aren’t getting too far ahead of themselves, and know that the competition gets a lot tougher in the sectional round.
“I'm really proud of my girls and we’re continuing to take it one day at a time,” Vadnais said. “When you get to this point, where there are only 16 teams left in Division 1, every team is really good. We are going to continue to use the formula that we have used all season, but do it to a higher level every game. We want to show what we can do, and compete against the best teams across the state.”
Hudson earned the No. 1 seed for the sectional round and will host fourth-seeded Wisconsin Rapids (14-5) in a semifinal matchup this Thursday, Feb. 18.
Last Friday the Raiders had assists on 22 of their 25 field goals and outrebounded Chippewa Falls 33-24 while eight players scored at least two points in their 62-26 win.
Livi Boily scored a team-high 11 points in the victory and Sophia Jonas had 10 points and three steals while Kira Young contributed nine points and five rebounds. Grace Hanson finished with eight points, seven assists and two blocked shots and Jordan Yacoub scored eight points in eight minutes off the bench while Grace Johnson added eight points and eight rebounds, Audrey Hatfield had eight boards, and Grace Lewis had six points, four assists and three steals.
Hudson used a similar formula in Saturday night’s regional title clinching 58-31 win over Menomonie.
Hatfield registered a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds while adding four blocked shots, three assists and three steals. Jonas also finished with 12 points and Kira Young had 10 while Boily scored eight and Lewis added seven points and five assists.
Vadnais said the Raiders’ defense has been a key to their 20-0 record this season, and looks for that to continue through the sectional round.
“We want to show our intensity and the elements we have used to be giving up 36 points per game through 20 games this season,” she said.
Second-seeded Hortonville (16-8) and No. 3 De Pere (23-3) will meet in Thursday night’s other sectional semifinal with the winners of Thursday night’s games meeting for a berth at state in the sectional final Saturday, Feb. 20. But Vadnais said the Raiders’ focus is squarely on their semifinal matchup with Wisconsin Rapids.
“Our leadership is amazing, and this game on Thursday will be a battle against Wisconsin Rapids,” she said. “I think it will be close throughout, and I feel really good to have Sophia and Audrey leading us through the fire. These are the games and the moments that you play all season for. I have confidence that my girls will rise to the occasion. Should be fun.”
River Falls knocked out by Chippewa
Chippewa Falls got a late steal and layup to post a 45-43 victory over River Falls in their regional quarterfinal matchup Tuesday Feb. 9, in River Falls.
The Wildcats trailed 27-19 at the break before battling back in the second half but couldn’t pull out the win.
Taylor Kasten led River Falls in the loss with 16 points and eight rebounds and Ella Peters had a double-double with 10 points and 15 boards while Rachel Randleman had eight points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
River Falls ended the season with a record of 4-15.