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Boys pick up BRC win

Wildcat senior Zach Pavlichek looks up at the remaining time on the scoreboard before launching a half-court shot at the buzzer in the Cats' Big Rivers Conference game against Menomonie last Tuesday. Pavlichek missed the shot but led the Cats with 14 points in their 50-43 victory.Bob Burrows photo

Halfway through the season the Wildcat boys' basketball team sports a record of 8-3.

And that suits head coach Greg Gaulke just fine.

"From the graduation rate that we had, I'm really proud of that," he said. "Like I tell the kids, we're nothing special, just a blue collar, hard-working team."

The Cats' blue collar attitude was on full display last week as they evened their Big Rivers Conference record at 2-2 with a 50-43 win over Menomonie Tuesday before dropping a 49-48 nonconference decision to Holmen Friday.

After another nonconference game at Baldwin-Woodville (6-3) Tuesday, Jan. 19, they resume BRC play at Rice Lake (8-5, 1-4) Friday, Jan. 22, before returning home to host Eau Claire North (8-3, 3-1) on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

Last Tuesday, 11 different Wildcats saw action in the team's 50-43 victory over Menomonie (0-10, 0-5).

"That was a game where we got everybody in," Gaulke said. "We were shuffling players to get them some playing time. Menomonie fought hard but I thought we had more manpower. It was a good game for us."

Zach Pavlichek led the Wildcats with 14 points and six assists while Jack Herum contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds.

"We wanted to get the ball inside and we worked hard to do that," Gaulke said. "We want to take higher percentage shots and put people in position where they can score."

Marty Herum added seven points in the win and Ben Wunrow and Zane Heinselman finished with five each while McClane Sherman scored four and Jimmy Ekman two.

Friday the Cats hosted Holmen and its coach Steve Blank, an old college friend of Gaulke's.

Holmen hit two three-pointers in the final minute to erase a one-point Wildcat lead and escape with a 49-48 victory.

"It was a great nonconference basketball game between two evenly matched teams," Gaulke said.

Heinselman hit a three-pointer late in the game to snap a 43-43 tie and put the Cats up by three. Jack Herum followed with a basket to widen the gap to 48-43 but Holmen responded with a three-pointer to pull to within two, 48-46.

River Falls had a chance to increase its lead from the foul line but couldn't take advantage and Holmen hit another three-pointer to take a 49-48 lead with 10 seconds remaining. But the Cats couldn't get a shot off down the stretch and turned the ball over.

Jack Herum led River Falls with 14 points and nine rebounds while Pavlichek finished with 11 points and Marty Herum contributed 10 points and nine boards. Heinselman added nine points and four assists while Sherman scored four.

Gaulke said he was disappointed with how the final 10 seconds played out.

"Ten seconds is an eternity and there was a little panic," he said. "Ten seconds is a long time but we didn't even get a shot off. At least if we get a shot it's a 50-50 chance and if we miss, we miss. But to not even get a shot, that's what I was disappointed with."

Gaulke said the Cats worked on remedying the situation this week in practice.

"There are bright spots you have to take, like Zane coming off the bench and scoring nine points," he said. "That's what nonconference games are for."

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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