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Boys' hoops advances to regional final

The River Falls boys' basketball team went on a 15-2 run in the final six minutes to erase a 31-25 deficit and defeat D.C. Everest, 40-33, in a regional semifinal game Tuesday night in River Falls.

The eighth-seeded Cats (18-5) move on to face top-seeded Antigo (21-0) in a regional final game Saturday at 7 p.m. in Antigo.

D.C. Everest scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to snap a 25-25 tie and take a six point lead, 31-25. River Falls forced turnovers on the Evergreens next three possessions that all resulted in baskets by Zach Pavlichek. A Pavlichek free throw with 1:51 remaining gave the Wildcats the lead for good, 32-31, with 1:51 remaining.

The Wildcats went on to hit 7-of-8 free throws to extend their lead to 39-31 before D.C. Everest scored its' final points on a tip-in with 14.5 seconds left.

Pavlichek led the Wildcats with 16 points while Jack Herum, Marty Herum and Zane Heinselman contributed six points each.

The Cats wrapped up the regular season last Friday with a 55-39 Big Rivers Conference victory over Rice Lake.

"It was one of our better games," head coach Greg Gaulke said. "The boys did some great things. It's the kind of game you want to see heading into the playoffs."

Three Wildcats scored in double figures, led by Heinselman with 13 points. Marty Herum and Jack Herum added 12 points each while Marty Herum led a defensive charge that limited Rice Lake's leading scorer, Wally Ellenson, to just 10 points.

Unlike the first meeting, a 44-43 loss to the Warriors Jan. 22 in Rice Lake, the Wildcats dominated the boards, outrebounding the Warriors 33-19. Jack Herum led the Cats with eight rebounds while Marty Herum and McClane Sherman grabbed six each.

River Falls jumped out to a 16-5 first quarter lead and led 28-15 at the break. The lead was 41-29 at the end of three before the Cats outscored the Warriors 14-10 down the stretch.

"All the components were there," Gaulke said. "The boys played great defense, anticipating passes and getting some turnovers. And their press was not a factor at all. The boys put the full package together."

Pavlichek contributed nine points, a team-high four assists and one blocked shot in the win while Sherman added five points and a blocked shot. Ryan Kilian and Ben Wunrow finished with two points each.

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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