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Boys bounce ECM

Hudson may have wrapped up the Big Rivers Conference boys' basketball title last week, but the scramble for second place is just heating up heading into the final two weeks of the season.

The Wildcats kept their hat in the ring by traveling to Eau Claire Memorial and coming away with a 55-53 victory Thursday night that moved them into a three-way tie with Eau Claire North and Chippewa Falls, all at 5-4.

The victory came two nights after the Cats posted a 51-35 nonconference win at Amery. River Falls is now 10-4 overall and traveled to winless Menomonie (0-8 BRC, 0-13 overall) Tuesday night. They return home to host Red Wing (8-9) in a nonconference game Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Head coach Greg Gaulke said last week's road wins should boost the Cats' confidence heading into the stretch run to the season.

"We've beaten Hudson and we've beaten both Eau Claire schools, I think we can beat anybody on a given night," he said. "We're in a three-way tie for second place and nobody knows what's going to happen down the line. I always like this time of year."

The Wildcats got off to a good start Thursday in Eau Claire and led 20-15 after one and 30-22 at the break. They led by as many as 10 late in the third quarter but the Old Abes (4-4, 6-9) stormed back and tied the score, 53-53, on a long three-pointer by Keegan Meier with 11 seconds remaining.

The Wildcats put the ball right back into play and Marty Herum got the ball to Eric Gilbertson, who hit a 15-foot jumper from the left side of the basket with five seconds left to provide the margin of victory.

"After they hit an ungodly three to tie it we got down court and got it to Eric for the winning basket," Gaulke said. "There wasn't enough time left to call a time out but Marty made a great play and Eric made a great shot."

Herum scored nine of his team-high 11 points in the second half while Gilbertson, Sean Gilbert and Lance Westberg all finished with 10 points each. Zach Pavlichek added eight points in the win while Ben Wunrow finished with four, including a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left to put the Cats up by three, 53-50.

Gilbertson pulled down nine rebounds and Herum grabbed seven as the Cats outrebounded the Old Abes 31-16.