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Basketball: Girls drop two in BRC

Junior Bailey Reardon (23) puts up a shot in traffic in the first half of the Wildcat girls basketball team's 64-49 loss to Eau Claire Memorial Thursday, Feb. 8, in River Falls. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
Senior Keira LaCroix drives to the basket in the first half of the Wildcat girls basketball team's 64-49 loss to Eau Claire Memorial Thursday, Feb. 8, in River Falls. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

After a sluggish start at home against Eau Claire Memorial Thursday, Feb. 8, the Wildcat girls basketball team put together a much better defensive effort Saturday, Feb. 10, at Chippewa Falls. Unfortunately it wasn't enough against the Big Rivers Conference co-leaders and the Cats lost their fifth straight conference game, 61-53.

The loss at Chippewa came after the Wildcats found themselves trailing 10-0 right off the bat two nights earlier in a 64-49 loss to Eau Claire Memorial.

The two losses left River Falls with a final BRC record of 2-10 as they head into the last two games of the regular season Tuesday, Feb. 13, at Baldwin-Woodville (9-11) and Saturday Feb. 17, at New Richmond (3-17). The Wildcats and Tigers will meet again in the first round of the WIAA Division 2 regionals Tuesday, Feb. 20, in River Falls.

Last Thursday against Eau Claire Memorial (4-6, 6-14), the Wildcats committed a season low 10 turnovers but couldn't overcome a lackluster start in a 64-49 loss to the Old Abes.

"I thought defensively we did not come out with the necessary energy to compete against a Big Rivers team, especially since Memorial is much better than their record suggests," Wildcat coach Ian Sticht said. "We need to be more consistent with contesting shots, fighting through screens, and being physical."

Memorial raced out to a 10-0 lead before three three-pointers by Kylie Strop and another by Bailey Reardon helped the Cats trim the gap to six, 35-29, at the break. But that's as close as River Falls could get as the Old Abes pulled away for a 15-point win.

"They shot lights out to start the game and we had to play catch up the rest of the way," Sticht noted. "We were not patient enough offensively, which makes it too easy for other teams to defend us when a lot of possessions early in a game where we only have two or three passes."

Strop hit six three-pointers in the game on her way to a team-high 20 points while Reardon finished with 13 points and seven rebounds and Maddi Kealy chipped in six points and nine boards.

Saturday at Chippewa Falls (9-2, 13-7), the Cardinals remained tied with Hudson atop the BRC standings with a 61-53 win over the Wildcats.

"Our defensive effort in this game was so much better than earlier in the week," Sticht said. "We consistently contested perimeter shots, communicated screens, and we were being much more physical. We had some really good offensive possessions throughout the game, but we need to be more consistent with our off-ball movement, getting more reversals and having patience."

Reardon led the Wildcats with 18 points, nine rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot while Kealy finished with 13 points, five rebounds and two steals. Abby Doerre added eight points, six rebounds and four assists while Strop had six points, four rebounds and four assists.

The Wildcats earned the No. 8 seed in the 11-team WIAA Division 2 regional and will host No. 9 seed New Richmond Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. The winner moves on to face top-seed Onalaska Friday, Feb. 23.

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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