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Basketball: Girls snap two-game skid

Senior Lexi LeFever pushes the ball up court in the second half of the Raider girls basketball team's 75-63 win over Stillwater Saturday, Dec. 2, in River Falls. LeFever scored 10 points in the win. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
Hudson senior Ty Huber (22) hits a pull-up jumper in the lane in the second half of the Raider girls basketball team's 75-63 victory over Stillwater at the River Falls Quad in River Falls Saturday, Dec. 2. Huber was one of four Raiders in double figures in scoring in the win with 15 points. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

Raider girls basketball coach Jess Carney had a simple message for her team after its second straight loss Friday night, Dec. 1.

"We've been getting off to really slow starts our last two games and kind of dug ourselves a hole and we've fought back and got to within four or five in the second half but we just expended so much energy that we couldn't get over that hump," she said. "So the goal tonight was to make sure we start out quick and start out playing our game, because when you're playing catch up you start losing your identity a little bit."

The message got through. After scoring 26 points in the first half of a 70-59 loss to Chippewa Falls Tuesday, Nov. 28, and just 16 first half points against Tartan in the first game of the River Falls Quad, Friday, Dec. 1, the Raiders scored 40 points in the first 18 minutes Saturday, Dec. 2 against Stillwater on their way to snapping their two-game skid with a 75-63 victory.

The win evened the Raiders' record at 2-2 heading into a Big Rivers Conference matchup with River Falls this past Tuesday, Dec. 5. They'll visit Eau Claire North for another conference game Friday, Dec. 8.

After beating Colfax in the season opener Nov. 21, Carney said the Raiders had a bit of a letdown in their next two games.

"The second and third games we played, I think it was more about effort," she said. "I tell these kids, a really good team plays 36 good minutes. We were playing about 26 good minutes."

Hudson put together a complete game from start to finish Saturday against Stillwater. The Raiders weathered every Pony run, including a four-point lead with five minutes remaining into a 12-point victory at the end.

"I told them, that's a heck of a run," Carney said. "It went from about four to about 12 in a short amount of time."

Shayla Wallin led four Raiders in double figures in scoring with 19 points and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds while Ty Huber finished with 15 points, six rebounds and matched Wallin with three steals. Kaiya Sundeen added 14 points and six boards while Lexi LeFever had 10 points and four assists.

Carney said the Raiders are learning to trust each other on the court.

"We play a lot of different combinations of lineups," she noted. "We have some young girls mixing in with some older girls, and I think they're learning about each other and they're learning each other's games and now we're starting to see how we mesh together a lot better."

Carney said the Raiders expended too much energy trying to get back in the game in their BRC opener at Chippewa Falls last Tuesday.

"We started out really slow and once we kicked it in about 10 minutes in everything started to be better and we played our basketball," she said. "But like I said, when you dig yourself a hole like that it's really hard on the road against the defending conference champions to get your feet going. I was proud of our kids for battling, but we can't make a habit of starting out like that."

Wallin was the lone Raider in double figures with 15 points while freshman Sophia Jonas hit three three-pointers to finish with nine.

Friday against Tartan, freshman Audrey Hatfield recorded a double-double off the bench with 13 points and 11 rebounds and Wallin and Huber scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, but it wasn't enough in a 53-46 loss.

Carney said effort and believing in the game plan can carry the Raiders far this season.

"We have to understand that we only have two players with significant varsity experience," she said. "It's going to take time to gel and mold the puzzle pieces together, but it's going to be really exciting as we go through the season to see what this team can do."

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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