Wildcats get win on Raiders' floor
The River Falls girls basketball team made enough free throws and grabbed key offensive rebounds in the final minute of Friday night's game at Hudson to earn their first victory on the Raiders' home court in more than a decade.
The final score was River Falls 45, Hudson 39.
"They've paid their dues. They've worked hard and they've got a pretty decent team," Hudson coach Dave Johnson said of the victorious Wildcats. He couldn't remember the last time the River Falls girls had defeated the Raiders at Hudson.
"I thought we did OK. I knew they were pretty good," Johnson added.
Hudson trailed River Falls 40-39 with 50 seconds left when Raider senior center Katie Layman was whistled for her fifth foul.
Tessa Feyereisen made one of two free throws, giving the Wildcats a 41-39 lead.
The Raiders turned the ball over on their next offensive possession, forcing them to foul again to keep the River Falls girls from running out the clock.
This time, the Wildcats' Katie Herum made the first free throw, increasing the River Falls lead to 42-39. She missed the second shot, but a teammate grabbed the rebound.
Again Hudson fouled. Again the River Falls player made the first free throw and missed the second. And again the Wildcats got the rebound.
The Wildcats' Molly Brendum made two more free throws in the final seconds to close out the scoring.
"It was a game where anyone could have won it," Johnson said. "They just hit those free throws and pulled away in the final minute. We didn't catch a break and had a couple of turnovers."
The outcome would have been different, he said, if the Raiders had made critical shots, handled the ball better and kept the Wildcats off the boards.
"This is a group that is still learning how to play with one another. You have to learn how to play in those tight games," he said. "We've just got to rebound. I think our group will get better as we go."
Unlike the Wildcats whose lineup is stacked with experienced players, the Raiders have only one regular starter (Katie Layman) back from last season.
Johnson said he's happy with his team's hustle and defensive play. What he's looking for now is more perimeter scoring.
The game was close throughout. The teams were tied at 11 at the end of the first quarter. River Falls led 25-23 at halftime and Hudson was up 34-33 at the end of the third period.
Katie Layman led Hudson in scoring with 10 points. Tara Schuknecht and Sharyn Dahl each had nine, and Meg Hawksford added 7.
The Raiders made nine of 19 two-point attempts and two of 12 three-point shots. They were 15 of 20 from the free-throw line.
Senior center Kelsie Flanscha did most of the damage for the Wildcats, scoring a game-high 24 points.
The Hudson girls hosted Chisago Lakes, Minn., in a non-conference game Tuesday night. They travel to Rice Lake Friday night, Dec. 9.