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Raider boys basketball team on a roll, defeats River Falls 55-39

Hudson senior Jake Giordana throws down a dunk after making a steal at midcourt in the second half of the Raiders' 55-39 win at River Falls Friday night. Giordana scored 10 points in the victory. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Bob Burrows)1 / 2
Hudson senior Miles Lewis makes a strong move for a basket in the first half of the Raiders' 55-39 win at River Falls last Friday night. The victory was the Raiders' fourth straight to end the regular season with a record of 12-9. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Bob Burrows)2 / 2

Every team wants to be playing its best basketball at the end of the season. The Raider boys basketball team is doing just that.

Hudson rolled to its fourth straight win, 55-39, in its final game of the regular season last Friday at River Falls, three nights after avenging a loss to Chippewa Falls earlier this season with a 94-78 win over the Cardinals.

The Raiders' last loss was to the Cardinals Feb. 10. Since reeling off four straight, head coach Jason Swavely believes his team is in a good spot heading into this Friday's playoff opener against Wausau West.

"We've had decided victories in our past four games and are hoping to continue that play into the postseason," Swavely said. "The first week of the season we always talk about playing our best basketball at the end of the season, in February and March. Our team is at that point right now."

The Raiders improved to 12-9 overall while finishing 7-5 in the Big Rivers Conference with last Friday's win at River Falls. Hudson led from the start, opening up a 16-10 first quarter lead and widening the gap to 24-16 at halftime before leading by double digits through most of the second half.

Alex Herink led all scorers with 24 points and Jake Giordana scored 10 while Jake Neiderhauser finished with eight and Mathew Sparstad had seven. Miles Lewis contributed three points in the win and Briggam Knott scored two while Garrett Hendricks added a free throw.

Swavely said Herink is playing the best basketball of his career right now -- on both ends of the court. He led Hudson with 24 points in their 94-78 win over Chippewa Falls last Tuesday, but Hudson also got 19 points from Giordana, 14 from Sparstad and 14 from the freshman Hendricks to put four players in double figures.

Neiderhauser contributed eight points, Lewis scored six, Reid Schwechler had five and Knott finished with four to round out the Raider scoring.

Swavely said everyone is stepping up as they've become more comfortable with their roles.

"We are getting great contributions from many players, and we are understanding what we need to do to win games," he said. "Lewis has been fantastic as a defender and rebounder. Giordana has vastly improved his play this season and has become a nice offensive threat for us. He is also embracing the defensive end and making plays that start our offense. Sparstad has played excellent defense all season and is making nice contributions at key times on the offensive end. Neiderhauser is a workhorse on defense and the glass and has been a key offensive contributor as well. Schwechler is giving us a nice perimeter option on offense. Knott is making solid gains on both ends of the floor and playing more confident each game. Hendricks is very poised as a freshman and continues to get better on both ends of the floor."

The second-seeded Raiders will look to continue their success when they open the postseason by hosting No. 7 Wausau West in a WIAA regional semifinal this Friday night, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. A win would keep the Raiders home for the regional final the following night against the winner of the Eau Claire Memorial (No. 3) and Chippewa Falls (No. 6) game.

"In the last portion of our season, players have been confidently stepping up and making big plays on the floor; that is the key ingredient for basketball team success and when it becomes contagious, good things will happen," Swavely said. "We are all looking forward to the post season and making a run in our section."

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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