The objective of Tuesday night’s game at St. Croix Falls was to give the New Richmond girls basketball team a severe challenge. Being short-handed by injuries and illness increased the severity of the test for the Tigers.
The Tigers and Saints battled evenly until the final minutes, when the Saints were able to pull away for a 63-46 victory.
St. Croix Falls is one of the most successful girls basketball programs in western Wisconsin. The Saints have won at least 21 games in each of the past five seasons and have won the past five Heart O’North Conference titles. Facing the Saints was the type of challenge the Tigers were seeking as they prep for the Big Rivers Conference schedule, which begins Tuesday, Nov. 30 at River Falls.
The Tigers were short-handed, with three girls out ill. Two of the starters, Gabby Aune and Brooklyn Jackson, were playing through injuries. Two of the Tigers’ starters, Brooke Blaszyczk and Makayla Langeness, played every second of the high-intensity game.
“We had every reason to roll over and let them walk all over us. We did not do that,” said New Richmond coach Riley Walz.
Instead, the Tigers carried the action, and the lead, through most of the first half. The Saints took a four-point lead into half, thanks partly to a long three-point shot that was banked in at the halftime buzzer.
Walz said the Tigers played well in their 1-3-1 defense, but they couldn’t maintain that level of energy through the second half.
The five Tiger starters all made strong contributions. Aune finished with 17 points, three assists and three steals. Blaszyczk contributed 15 points, five rebounds and three assists. Langeness finished with eight points, seven rebounds and three steals. Jackson finished with five rebounds. Lilly Carlson made her first varsity start, scoring four points. Walz was pleased that she didn’t commit a turnover in the game.
Walz is giving the team several days off in hopes that the girls can be healthy to dive into the BRC schedule next week.