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Cats hit holiday break hot

Wildcat senior Brad Freeborn (20) throws down a dunk in front of the student section in the "Cat's Den," including a fan holding an oversized image of Freeborn's face, near the end of the first half of the boys' basketball team's 71-44 win over Chippewa Falls last Tuesday night at the high school gym. Freeborn had 20 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals in the victory. <i>Bob Burrows photo</i>1 / 2
Wildcat senior Tanner Heinselman blows past a Chippewa Falls' defender for a layup in the first half of the Cats' 71-44 victory over the Cardinals last Tuesday at the high school gym.2 / 2

After the Wildcat boys' basketball team's 71-44 win over Chippewa Falls last Tuesday coach Greg Gaulke said he's pretty happy with his team heading into the two-week holiday break.

"It's a wonderful way to go into the break," he said. "Six and one, one game behind the conference leader, the boys are fired up."

The win over the Cardinals improved the Wildcats' record to 6-1 overall, 3-1 in the Big Rivers Conference, one game behind undefeated Rice Lake in the BRC standings.

River Falls' scheduled game at Holmen last Thursday was postponed due to heavy snow in the La Crosse area and will be made up Saturday, Jan. 12, at 2:30 p.m. at Holmen Middle School. It will be the third of three games for the Wildcats that week, beginning Tuesday, Jan. 8, at Eau Claire at Eau Claire North (3-5, 2-2). Friday, Jan. 11, River Falls will host Hudson (1-6, 0-3) at 7:30 p.m. at the high school gym.

Last Tuesday at home against Chippewa Falls (0-8, 0-3), Luke Murphy scored 24 points and Brad Freeborn added 20 as the Cats led wire to wire. Freeborn also contributed six rebounds, four assists and four steals while Alex Call finished with nine points.

Tanner Heinselman, Eric Wunrow and DeMarcus Zeroth each scored four points while Heinselman also grabbed four rebounds, had three steals and dished out a team-high eight assists.

"Tanner may not score a lot of pints but what he does on offense with assists and on defense is huge," Gaulke said about the senior guard. "The energy he brings grows on the team."

The Wildcats opened up a 10-point first quarter lead and led 33-21 at the break before widening the gap to 51-32 by the end of the third quarter.

Gaulke said the Wildcats will use the holiday break to fine tune some things.

"We want to keep working on shooting," he said. "Defensively we've been strong. Above all, we want to keep working as a team -- finding the open man, giving that extra pass, unselfish play. We've been getting that but we want to keep working hard at it."

Gaulke said he wants the Wildcats to be ready for a busy stretch of games once the new year starts.

"Once you get through the holidays, we'll have some weeks where we'll play three games," he said. "You play those Friday and Saturday games and that gets you ready for tournament play; that's when you play in the sectional."

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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