Boys bumped from first
Last week was a tough one for the Hudson boys basketball team.
They dropped their first two games in conference play - losing 50-46 to River Falls at home Tuesday and 53-50 at Eau Claire North Friday.
The losses put the Raiders (5-2) half a game behind Eau Claire Memorial (6-2) in the Big Rivers standings.
Hudson shares the second-place spot with Rice Lake (5-2) for the moment. That will change, however, when the Warriors come to town Thursday night.
The Eau Claire North Huskies (4-3) are nipping at both the Raiders' and Warriors' heels.
Last week's games were nearly a mirror image of frustration for the Raiders. Both were closely contested. In each one, an individual opponent had an outstanding performance. And the Raiders were whistled for significantly more fouls in each games.
Jesse Elling of River Falls scored a game-high 22 points to do most of the damage in Tuesday night's game.
Each of the first three periods ended with the two teams either tied or one of them leading by two points.
Hudson trailed 48-46 with 13 seconds remaining and had a chance to tie the game but a River Falls defender got a piece of Matt Miller's lay-up attempt and it fell short of the rim.
The Raiders were then forced to foul and Jake Voeltz closed the deal for the Wildcats by making two free throws.
River Falls shot 29 free throws compared to Hudson's 11. The Wildcats went 20-29 from the line, the Raiders, 6-11.
Miller led Hudson with 18 points. He hit two three-pointers.
The officiating was even more uneven Friday night in Eau Claire North's Dog House. The Huskies got 30 attempts from the free-throw line, making 25, while the Raiders made just nine trips to the line and converted four attempts.
Hudson trailed by a handful of points most of the game, but fell behind by 10 with about four minutes left. The gap proved to be too big for the Raiders to close in the final minutes.
Jason Engedal had one of the best nights of his high school career and was North's high scorer with 17 points.
Miller again led Hudson in scoring, this time with 17 points. Waylon Meyer added 14.
"We've got to get back to playing at a high level," said Hudson coach Tim Scharfenberg.
"I don't think there is any question that they are still very committed to winning this conference championship," he said of his team. "We're still in a good position to do that. It's just that there's no room for error right now."
Scharfenberg refused to blame spotty officiating for the losses.
"Partially, it's because we're just not doing a good enough job of moving our feet and staying disciplined on defense. Our help defense has been a little late in rotating over," he said of the lopsided foul totals. "Mainly though, it's just at the point of attack - we have to do a better job of containing dribble penetration."
He added: "I've got to believe the character of this team is going to show through and we will come back with a strong performance here against Rice Lake."
Game time Thursday (Feb. 5) is 7:30 p.m. The Raiders travel to Menomonie (2-6) Saturday, Feb. 7. That also is a 7:30 p.m. game.