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Boys fall short to Warriors

Hudson's Charlie Neuenschwander (21) gets around a Rice Lake defender for two of his 14 points in the Raider boys basketball team's 81-73 loss to the Warriors Thursday, Feb. 15, in Hudson. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
Hudson's Keyser Helterbrand drives the lane in the second half of the Raider boys basketball team's 81-73 loss to Rice Lake Thursday, Feb. 15, in Hudson. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

It's a trend that has plagued the Raider boys basketball team this season. Go toe-to-toe with a team that's ahead of them in the standings only to see it slip away at the end.

It happened again last Thursday night against Rice Lake. The Raiders and the defending Big Rivers Conference co-champions went back and forth and the score was tied, 69-69, with just over three minutes remaining. But Rice Lake outscored Hudson 12-4 the rest of the way to pull out an 81-73 victory.

"This is one of about seven or eight games this year where we have played pretty well against good teams but come up short in the end," Hudson coach John Dornfeld said. "We've talked quite a bit about this as a team and the thing we emphasize is that everyone has to be accountable-starters, rotation players, and coaches."

Rice Lake improved to 7-4 in the BRC (15-5 overall) and has a chance to tie River Falls for second place in the final league standings with a win over Menomonie in its final conference game. The Raiders meanwhile slipped to 4-7 in conference play, 8-12 overall, with a home game against Minnetonka Tuesday, Feb. 20, and the BRC regular season finale at Eau Claire Memorial Thursday, Feb. 22. Hudson will open the postseason as the No. 12 seed in the sectional at No. 5 Appleton East in a regional semifinal Friday, March 2.

Dornfeld said the Raiders played hard at times in the loss to Rice Lake but didn't execute as well as they needed to in their half court offense.

"Couple that with not having a great shooting night and we fall short," he noted. "But I like that we had good scoring balance with seven guys with seven points or better."

Four Raiders scored in double figures, led by Keyser Helterbrand with 15 points. Charlie Neuenschwander added 14 and Landen Bilse and Paul Sparstad scored 12 each while Jacob Daulton had eight and Ethan Kostynick had seven.

Rice Lake used a 6-0 run from the 3:23 mark to 2:04 to open up a 75-69 lead and hold on for the win.

"Most close games come down to a few key possessions," Dornfeld noted. "Everyone is good about identifying what they need to do better and do a good job of taking responsibility. As long as we continue with that mentality we'll continue to make improvements."

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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