Wildcats bounce back after breakThe Wildcat boys’ basketball team put its long holiday break to good use and returned to action with a pair of emphatic victories last week.
By: Bob Burrows, River Falls Journal
The Wildcat boys’ basketball team put its long holiday break to good use and returned to action with a pair of emphatic victories last week.
Playing for the first time in nearly three weeks and coming off two straight losses, the Cats went to Prescott last Tuesday and came home with a 64-25 nonconference win over the Pirates. Friday night they evened their Big Rivers Conference mark at 2-2 with a 52-28 victory over winless Menomonie.
The pair of wins snapped a two-game losing streak for the Cats and boosted their overall record to 4-2.
“That first half against Eau Claire Memorial was not good basketball for us,” head coach Greg Gaulke said about the Cats’ 55-52 loss to the Old Abes in their last game before the break. “That was the first good zone defense we had seen and we were not patient enough. We were taking shots off the first and second passes. It was a good learning lesson for the future. The points come if you’re patient and take good shots.”
Prescott did its scouting and came out in a zone defense against the Cats last Tuesday, but River Falls showed patience and poise this time, jumping out to a 31-12 halftime lead while holding the Pirates (1-9) to single-digit scoring in each quarter.
“We had real good Christmas vacation practices, and the boys cane out against Prescott and made some tremendous passes,” Gaulke said. “You could see the confidence building.”
All 11 players who saw action scored points for River Falls, led by Eric Gilbertson, who led all scorers with 15. Marty Herum and Sean Gilbert finished with eight points apiece and Lance Westberg added seven while Jack Herum and Ben Wunrow scored five each. McLane Sherman, Sam Abair and Zach Pavlichek all finished with four points while Spencer Langer and Greg Cheever each had two.
Dan Payne led Prescott with eight.
“Ben Wunrow came in and made some good passes, Zach Pavlichek kept the ball alive with his rebounding and Eric had a nice game,” Gaulke said.
Friday at home against Menomonie (0-7, 0-3), the Indians did their scouting and threw a zone defense at the Cats, but Gilbert scored 14 points and Gilbertson finished with 10 in a 52-28 victory.
Menomonie closed out the first quarter with a pair of three-pointers to cut the Wildcat lead to 12-11, but River Falls held the Indians to single-digit scoring in the final three quarter while opening up leads of 25-16 at the half and 46-22 at the end of three.
Westberg contributed seven points in the win and Marty Herum and Pavlichek finished with six each while Sherman added four, Jack Herum and Wunrow two apiece and Langer one.
Gaulke said the hard work the Cats put in over the holiday break is paying off.
“We played two great games last week,” he said. “It’s a critical time for us. Now we have two games a week basically for the rest of the season. We don’t have those long breaks to work on things. We’re slowly getting up there. By February we want to be hitting on all cylinders.
The Cats traveled to Osceola (6-1) for a nonconference game Tuesday night and return to BRC action Friday at 7:30 p.m. at home against Rice Lake (5-4, 1-3).