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Basketball: Raider boys move up in BRC

Hudson junior Ethan Stanchik drives past River Falls' Jake Knotek and Eric Wunrow for a reverse layup in the third quarter of the Raiders' 42-37 win over the Wildcats Saturday night at the high school. Stanchik scored five points in the game and came up with a late steal to help the Raiders seal the victory. Photo by Bob Burrows1 / 2
Senior Kellen Pearson (25) hits a layup for two of his team-high 19 points in the Raiders' 42-37 victory over River Falls Saturday night at the high school. Photo by Bob Burrows2 / 2

The Raider boys' basketball team moved to within a half-game of second place in the Big Rivers Conference with wins over Menomonie and River Falls last week.

The Raiders defeated Menomonie, 41-30, on the road Thursday, Feb. 2 before topping River Falls, 42-37, Saturday, Feb. 4 at home.

The two victories gave the Raiders a record of 6-3 in the BRC (11-6 overall), and into sole possession of third place, one-half game behind 7-3 Chippewa Falls. Rice Lake leads the BRC with a mark of 9-0.

Hudson's latest victory came Saturday night as Kellen Pearson scored a game-high 19 points, including seven fourth quarter free throws, to help the Raiders hold off River Falls, 42-37.

Head coach Jason Swavely said the Raiders got off to a good start and were able to limit River Falls to a number of one-shot possessions.

"We got off to a nice start attacking River Falls' zone defense," he said. "We were able to get some perimeter shots to fall early which we haven't been able to do as of late."

Hudson hit three three-pointers in the opening frame -- two by Pearson and one by Alex Herink -- to open up a 13-6 lead. A pair of tree-pointers by Jordan Delao helped extend the lead to seven, 19-12, but the Wildcats scored the last three points of the second quarter to cut the lead to 19-15 at halftime.

River Falls took a brief one point lead, 26-25, late in the third quarter but a Stef Smith jumper put Hudson ahead 27-26 at the end of three.

Hudson's lead grew back to seven, 33-26, on an off-balance shot by Luke Miller three minutes into the fourth quarter and the lead was still seven, 38-31, with just under a minute remaining.

River Falls would not go away, however, and Chris Scott nailed a three-pointer to make it a four-point game, 38-34, with 41 seconds left. Pearson hit a pair of free throws with 38 seconds remaining to extend the Raider lead to 40-34, but Scott hit another three with 25 seconds left to make it a three-point game, 40-37.

Pearson took the inbounds pass and was able to dribble the length of the court without getting fouled. His layup was off the mark and River Falls' Eric Wunrow grabbed the rebound and turned upcourt. But Ethan Stanchik poked the ball away from behind and into the arms of Pearson, who was fouled with 10 seconds left. Pearson drained both free throws to make the final 42-37.

In addition to Pearson's 19 points, Alex Herink finished with eight and Delao had six while Stanchik finished with five and Miller and Smith scored two each.

Last Thursday at Menomonie, the Raiders broke open a close game with a 15-7 third quarter run, then held the Mustangs to just two fourth quarter field goals, on their way to a 41-30 victory.

"The first half was a back and forth battle with both teams struggling to score," Swavely said. "We took control in the third quarter with some pressure defense and conversions."

Herink led the Raiders with 14 points and Pearson finished with 12 while Stanchik scored six, Smith added five, Miles Lewis had two and Miller added a free throw.

The Raiders travel to first place Rice Lake Friday night, Feb. 10, before returning home to host Eau Claire North next Thursday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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