Hudson girls basketball

The Hudson girls’ basketball team poses with the Silver Balls trophy after finishing as state runner-up at the WIAA Division 1 Girls Basketball Tournament Feb. 27 at Menominee Nation Arena in Oshkosh. File photo

To say the Hudson girls basketball team’s 2020-21 season was a special one would be an understatement.

The Raiders finished the regular season 18-0, with only one game decided by single digits. That run continued in the postseason, winning three games by double digits before grinding out a 55-50 victory over Hortonville in the sectional final to advance to the WIAA Division 1 State Tournament.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, the state tournament was played in a single-day session Feb. 27 at Menominee Nation Arena in Oshkosh, with semifinals in the afternoon and the championship game that night.

The Raiders took care of business in their semifinal game, beating Franklin 61-46, before suffering their only loss of the season to Germantown, 63-48, in the state title game.

The Hudson girls hadn’t reached the state tournament since 2003, after winning it all in 2002. Fourth-year Raider coach Jess Vadnais was a member of both of those teams before going on to become a Division III All-American at Gustavus Adolphus College.

Seniors Sophia Jonas and Audrey Hatfield both received honorable mention to the 2020-21 Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association All-State Team. Both were also first team All-Big Rivers Conference picks, with Jonas, just the third player in Hudson history to score 1,000 career points, named the BRC Player of the Year.

Hatfield continued her college career at the University of St. Thomas in their first season as an NCAA Division 1 program while Jonas went on to the College of St. Benedict.

The girls basketball’s appearance in the state title game was the first of three in the 2021 calendar year for Hudson, with both the Raider girls and boys soccer teams going on to win silver balls in their respective state tournaments under head coach Steve Sollom.

Like the state basketball tournament four months later, the girls state soccer tournament was a one-day affair at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee June 24. And just like at state basketball, the Raiders suffered their first loss of the season, 2-1, to Divine Savior Holy Angels in the state title game after beating Kettle Moraine 4-1 earlier in the day.

Senior Avery Murdzek, who was named the BRC Player of the Year, and twin sister Laney Murdzek both went on to play soccer at South Dakota State University in the fall.

Sollom had barely put the equipment away when two months later he was back on the field with the Hudson boys soccer team, and the Raiders responded by reaching the state tournament for the second straight season.

Hudson took a 17-2-2 record into state before defeating Verona Nov. 4 in the semifinals, 1-0, for its first state tournament win in 11 visits. The victory ensured the Raiders their first state trophy in program history. That trophy ended up being a silver ball when they lost 1-0 to Marquette in the state title game two days later. It was the seventh time in the past eight seasons Marquette has won the WIAA Division 1 championship.

Junior Darren Chukel was named the BRC Co-Player of the Year and was joined on the All-BRC First Team by Harry Ross, Brett Hauser and goalkeeper Lucas Biederman.

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