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Girls basketball: Wildcats muzzle Huskies

River Falls sophomore Abby Doerre (24) gets hit on the arm as she makes a pass in the second half of the Wildcat girls basketball team's 51-38 loss to Prescott Tuesday, Jan. 16, in River Falls. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
Wildcat junior Kylie Strop puts up a shot in traffic in the second half of the Cats' 51-38 loss to Prescott Tuesday, Jan. 16, in River Falls. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

It wasn't pretty, but the Wildcat girls basketball team was able to grind out a 36-34 Big Rivers Conference win over Eau Claire North Friday, Jan. 19, in Eau Claire.

Kylie Strop accounted for nearly half of River Falls' points with 17 and Abby Doerre pulled down 10 rebounds and made three steals as the Cats picked up their second BRC win of the season.

"It wasn't our best offensive output, but North is a really strong defensive team. They make you work really hard for every point," Wildcat coach Ian Sticht said. "When North went on a run late in the game we were able to get some really good offensive possessions and we did an outstanding job of not giving North any second chance opportunities."

The Huskies led 21-20 at the break but the Wildcats dominated the boards in the second half while holding North's leading scorer to seven points.

Doerre had four points to go with her 10-rebound night while Maddi Kealy added seven points and seven boards. Bailey Reardon finished with six points and seven rebounds and Strop added six rebounds, three steals and two assists to her stat line while Faith Mader had five rebounds.

"We showed how we have grown this year," Sticht said. "Bailey, Madi, and Abby Doerre were able to pull down some rebounds late in the game. I really thought we kept our composure and finished with some poise. Everyone knew how important each possession was in a low scoring game."

The win came three nights after the Cats dropped a 51-38 nonconference decision to Prescott in their first game in 10 days. River Falls shot just 25 percent from the floor and were just 5-of-8 from the free throw line compared to 19-of-25 for the Cardinals.

"I almost feel like we played so flat because of all the time we spent practicing," Sticht said. "We never really got in a flow on offense, especially when Prescott went into a 2-3 zone. We spent a lot of time working on attacking a zone, but we were not patient enough and forced too many shots. Once they got up 10, we really started to rush on offense and made it easy for Prescott to defend us."

Strop and Kealy finished with 10 points each in the loss while Mader had nine, all from three-point range. Reardon pulled down a team-high nine rebounds and dished out three assists while Strop had six steals, three assists and one blocked shot.

Sticht said in order for the Cats to compete when they can't get shots to fall, they need to play smarter on defense.

"That means we have to be in our gaps and help positions sooner and focused less on just guarding our player when they don't have the ball," he said.

The Wildcats, now 5-10 overall, 2-5 in BRC play, will host Hudson this Friday, Jan. 26, at 7:15 p.m.

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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