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Raider girls top River Falls in overtime

Hudson’s Maggie Koehler, left, Lexi Jonas, Katy Fox (15) and Jordan Huber breathe a collective sigh of relief after pulling out a 53-42 overtime victory at River Falls last Friday night. Jonas hit a free throw and Huber followed with a layup at the beginning of overtime to give the Raiders the lead for good. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Bob Burrows)

Three nights after having Big Rivers Conference leader Chippewa Falls on the ropes last Tuesday, the Raider girls basketball team pulled out a 53-42 overtime victory at River Falls Friday to move into fourth place in the BRC standings.

Hudson nearly handed the first place Cardinals their first conference loss of the season last Tuesday, falling 43-39 after leading at halftime. Friday at River Falls they let a 13-point halftime lead evaporate, only to outscore the Wildcats 13-2 in overtime to pull out the win.

“It was your typical archrival game,” Raider coach Joe Behnke said about the matchup with River Falls. “No matter how the game went early you knew it would be a barn burner late.”

Hudson led 14-5 after one and 26-13 at the break before River Falls closed the gap to 35-27 with one quarter to play.

The Wildcats tied the score, 38-38, midway through the fourth quarter and took a two-point lead, 40-38, with 1:55 remaining before Hudson’s Kaylyn Jenkins hit a pair of free throws with 1:27 left to tie it again.

The Raiders forced a Wildcat turnover and held the ball for the final minute before Lexi Jonas’ shot from the top of the key was off the mark, sending the game to overtime.

Jonas hit a free throw seven seconds into the extra session and Jordan Huber followed with a layup before the Cats answered with a basket to make it a 43-42 game. But Hudson held the Wildcats scoreless the rest of the way while hitting 10-of-12 free throws in the final 2:37 to earn the victory.

“To our girls’ credit, when River Falls took their first lead of the game with a minute left, there was no panic,” Behnke said. “We executed a nice offensive sequence and Kaylyn drew a foul and knocked her free throws down to tie it up. We even had a pretty good look, a little further out than we would have liked but none the less a decent look to win it at the end of regulation.”

Jenkins led all scorers with 23 points and pulled down eight rebounds while Jonas had 12 points, including two three-pointers, and Huber hit two three-pointers on her way to a 10-point night.

Anna Paquette chipped in with three points and Katy Fox and Maggie Koehler scored two points each while Ashley Juza added a free throw. For the game, the Raiders were 12-of-20 from the free throw line, including 11-of-14 in overtime.

“It's fun to see our girls making strides and playing with confidence,” Behnke said.

Three nights earlier the Raiders led Chippewa Falls, 20-17, at halftime before being outscored 17-8 in the third quarter on their way to a 43-39 loss to the Cardinals.

Jonas had 14 points and Jenkins had 12 points and nine rebounds in the loss while Huber finished with five points, Juza scored four and Paquette and Fox contributed two each.

“I like the way we are showing growth and resiliency late in the heat of the game,” Behnke said. “ Don't get me wrong; we are on the losing end of the score but we continue to close the gap on these teams that were taking it to us early in the year and we are concentrating on those small victories. You want to be playing your best ball coming down the stretch and leading into the playoffs and spring boarding into summer workouts and next season. That is what we are doing.”

The Raiders, now 8-13 overall, 5-6 in the BRC, will wrap up the regular season Thursday, Feb. 27, at Eau Claire North (10-10, 7-4). Hudson will open the WIAA Division 1 regional playoffs as the No. 8 seed and will travel to top-seeded Superior on Friday, March 7.

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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