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Road warriors

Hudson's Eric Schmechel (34) gets sandwiched by River Falls' Jack Herum (14) and Zach Pavlichek (42) as Pavlichek steals the ball in the second half of the Cats' 53-45 win over the Raiders last Tuesday in Hudson. Bob Burrows photo

The Wildcat boys' basketball team picked up a pair of huge Big Rivers Conference road wins last week, defeating Hudson 53-45 last Tuesday before handing Eau Claire Memorial its first conference loss, 59-57, in triple overtime on Saturday.

The win over the Old Abes vaulted the Cats into second place in the BRC, two games behind Memorial with three to play.

River Falls, now 6-3 in the BRC, 14-4 overall, will visit Menomonie (1-8, 1-15) Friday night and host New Richmond (10-4) in a nonconference game Monday. Tuesday the team returns to BRC play at Eau Claire North (5-3, 10-6) and wraps up the regular season at home against Rice Lake (3-6, 10-8) on Friday, Feb. 26.

Wildcat head coach Greg Gaulke called last week "huge" for his team.

"We could not have done better than that," he said about the two road wins. "The boys played their hearts out."

Gaulke said Saturday night's triple overtime win over 14th-ranked Eau Claire Memorial (8-1, 14-4) was both emotionally and physically draining.

"It was a wonderful night of high school basketball," he said. "I'm so proud of the boys. Everybody was focused; you could see it in their eyes."

After being tied 34-34 at the end of regulation, 41-41 at the end of the first overtime, and 50-50 at the end of the extra session, Jack Herum sealed the Wildcat win with a 10-foot baseline jumper with two seconds remaining in the third overtime.

The Old Abes tried a desperation shot at the buzzer but it missed its mark.

"That play was designed to go to Marty (Herum) but they had him covered like a blanket," Gaulke said about Jack Herum's game-winning shot. "We got the ball to Jack and he hit the shot and that was the difference."

The Cats trailed by eight in the fourth quarter but sent the game into overtime on a steal and layup by Zach Pavlichek with 22 seconds remaining in regulation.

Marty Herum sent the game into a second overtime by converting a lob pass from Ben Wunrow. Two free throws by Memorial's Ricky Caldwell sent the game into a third overtime.

Marty Herum finished with a double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to lead the Cats while Pavlichek added 16 points and a team-high 4 assists. Jack Herum added 12 points and 9 rebounds in the win while Zane Heinselman gave the Cats four players in double figures in scoring with 10 points.

Last Tuesday at Hudson, Jack Herum led all scorers with 24 points, including the Cats' first dunk of the season, and pulled down 11 rebounds in a 53-45 win over the Raiders.

Tied 24-24 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter, Wunrow gave the Cats the lead for good with a put-back to put River Falls up by two.

The Wildcat lead was five, 38-33, at the end of three and grew to 10, 52-42, on a pair of free throws by Wunrow in the final minute before Hudson's Jordan Vitek nailed a long three-pointer with two seconds left to make the final 53-45.

Pavlichek added 10 points, 7 rebounds and four assists in the win while Marty Herum finished with 7 points and 6 boards.

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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