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Happy holiday for Wildcat girls

Wildcat sophomore Bailey Reardon (23) give a ball fake to a La Crosse Central defender before blowing by her for two of her team-high 15 points in the Cats' 47-41 victory over the Red Raiders last Thursday night in River Falls. (River Falls Journal photo by Bob Burrows)

The Wildcat girls' basketball team gave its fans an early Christmas present with a 47-41 victory over La Crosse Central last Thursday at home to snap a seven-game losing streak to start the season.

"Going into break, we really needed to not just win, but play well," head coach Ian Sticht said. "Especially with it being alumni night and our community fundraiser night."

La Crosse Central scored the last basket of the first half to take a 22-21 lead into the locker room before the Wildcats pulled away for the six-point win.

Sticht said it was only a matter of time before the Cats' put a 'W' on the board after starting the season with seven straight losses.

"We have been playing much better basketball lately, which is a result of the hard work our players have been putting in at practice," he said. "They have stayed very positive through the first part of the season, which is not always easy to do when we haven't won a game."

Sophomore Bailey Reardon led the Cats with 15 points and freshman Kylie Strop had 14 while senior Lynsey Bilicke added nine. Junior Kiera LaCroix contributed five points in the victory while senior Shanelle Borth and junior Ema Pupungatoa scored two points each.

"It really was a team effort," Sticht noted. "Shanelle had some rebounds at the end of the game and Lynsey came up huge from the free-throw line late in the game. Kiera came off the bench and made a three at a critical point in the game and had another bucket as well. Emma also had some rebounds late in the game that were big. They played a 1-3-1 and I thought we did a good job of attacking gaps, using the short corner and getting looks off reversals."

The victory came not only on the Wildcats' Alumni Recognition Night, but it was also a fundraiser for Angie Burke, a River Falls' resident with daughters in girls basketball who is currently battling a brain tumor. The night featured a silent auction, 50/50 raffle and a post game alumni reunion.

River Falls, now 1-7 overall, will look for its first Big Rivers Conference win when it hosts Rice Lake (2-3) Tuesday, Jan. 3, in the second game of a doubleheader at the high school scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m.

Sticht said the team is moving in the right direction.

"We have been saying all year, our schedule has been loaded with very good teams," he said. "I have just been extremely proud of how our kids have continued to work hard and be supportive of one another."

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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