The Wildcat girls basketball team couldn't dig itself out of an early hole in a 71-66 loss at Menomonie last Tuesday, Jan. 30, before falling to Rice Lake, 67-51, Friday, Feb. 2 at home.
Head coach Ian Sticht said the Cats played much better Friday against Rice Lake and Big Rivers Conference Player of the Year candidate Brooke Olson, despite shooting just 30 percent from the floor.
"Brooke Olson is the best player in our conference and in this area," Sticht opined. "I thought our bigs, Ema (Pupungatoa) and Maddi (Kealy), both did an excellent job of defending her. She hit some deep threes early in the game and finished around the basket, but she had to work very for all her points."
Olson finished with 25 points in the game, including her 1,000th career point.
The Wildcats were led by Bailey Reardon with 12 points while Kylie Strop and Faith Mader scored nine points each and Kealy finished with eight.
Sticht said the Cats' biggest challenge offensively was getting shots to fall.
"This was just one of those games where you look at the scoreboard and we are down 10," he noted. "We had really good possessions offensively, but we didn't get shots to fall when we needed them to."
Earlier in the week the Wildcats struggled early at both ends of the floor in a 71-66 loss to the Mustangs.
"In the first half, we really took a step backwards defensively," he said. "We did a poor job of leveling dribblers and being in our gaps. The first four minutes of the game were a complete waste of time for us offensively as we just stood around and waited for things to happen. As the game went on, we started to be more efficient with our off ball movement, which led to some easy scoring opportunities for us. We outscored them in the second half 37-34, but dug ourselves too big of a hole."
Strop finished with 21 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals in the game while Reardon added 19 points, five rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot. Kealy contributed nine points and Taylor Weick scored six while Abby Doerre finished with five points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals.
The Wildcats, now 5-13 overall, 2-8 in the BRC, will host Eau Claire Memorial (5-13, 3-6) Thursday, Feb. 8, before visiting conference leader Chippewa Falls (11-7, 8-2) Saturday, Feb. 10.