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Raiders repeat BRC champs

Hudson senior Shayla Wallin (32) drives past three Eau Claire Memorial defenders for two of her game-high 23 points in the Raider girls basketball team's 56-38 Big Rivers Conference title-clinching victory over the Old Abes Friday, Feb. 16, in Hudson. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
Hudson head coach Jess Carney and the Raider girls basketball team celebrate after cutting down the nets following their 56-38 victory over Eau Claire Memorial that gave them a share of the Big Rivers Conference championship Friday, Feb. 16, in Hudson. Photo courtesy of Michael Huber 2 / 2

Jess Carney won a Big Rivers Conference championship as a player on the Hudson girls basketball team in 2002. Friday night, Feb. 16, she got to experience what it felt like as Hudson's head coach.

After opening 0-2 in BRC play, the Raiders reeled off 10 straight conference wins, capped by Friday night's 56-38 victory over Eau Claire Memorial, to claim their second straight BRC title and first under Carney, who took over for Joe Behnke this season when Behnke left to become principal at Hudson Prairie Elementary School.

"It was a very special night," Carney said. "Being able to be conference champs my first season at my alma mater means the world to me. Now let's see what we can do in the playoffs."

Carney's 2002 team went on to win a state title. The 2018 Raiders will take an 11-game winning streak into their playoff opener this Friday, Feb. 23, at home against Eau Claire North.

Hudson, 15-7 overall, 10-2 in the BRC, enters the postseason as the No. 7 seed in the 16-team sectional while Eau Claire North (11-11, 5-7) is No. 10. The Raiders swept the Huskies during the regular season, earning the first of their 10 straight conference wins, 63-51, Dec. 8 in Eau Claire and posting a 48-44 come from-behind victory Jan. 30 in Hudson. Their regional final tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at the high school.

Last Friday against Eau Claire Memorial (6-16, 4-8), the Raiders opened up a 31-17 halftime lead on their way to completing a season sweep of the Old Abes with a 56-38 victory.

Senior Shayla Wallin led the way with 23 points and freshman Audrey Hatfield had 11 while freshman Sophia Jonas added eight. The Raiders hit five three-pointers in the win—two each by Wallin and Jonas and one from Izzy Hanson—before celebrating their BRC title by cutting down the nets in their home gym.

The winner of this Friday's game between Hudson and Eau Claire North will move on to face either No. 2 seed Kimberly or No. 15 Oshkosh West Saturday, Feb. 24, at the home of the highest remaining seed.

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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