By Reagan Hoverman The western Wisconsin girls basketball conference titles races are beginning to heat up with less than one month remaining in the regular season. The Middle Border Conference has …
By Reagan Hoverman
The western Wisconsin girls basketball conference titles races are beginning to heat up with less than one month remaining in the regular season. The Middle Border Conference has one of the most competitive races on this side of the state, with four teams all having a legitimate shot at winning the conference crown.
It’s been a season of ups and downs for the Ellsworth Panthers girls basketball team. The most recent game for Jason Janke’s roster was on Saturday, Jan. 29, when the Panthers played Heart O’North opponent the St. Croix Falls Saints at a neutral site in Somerset.
St. Croix Falls essentially took care of business in the first half against Ellsworth. The Saints jumped out to a 43-24 lead throughout the first 18 minutes of action and rode that momentum to a 75-50 victory over Ellsworth. The Panthers had trouble slowing down Brianna Mc-Curdy and Lucy Belisle of the Saints, who had 26 and 23 points respectively. Janke had the following to say about the SCF game.
“It was our final non-conference game of the season, and we were dealing with some challenges,” Janke said. “Some to do with playing two games so close together on the road, along with some injuries and illness on the team. All things considered, we competed well.”
The loss dropped the Panthers to 10-9 for the season. Since it was a non-conference game, the Panthers retained their 6-3 record in Middle Border Conference games this season. That 6-3 record has Ellsworth in fourth place in the conference standings, trailing Prescott, Altoona and Baldwin-Woodville.
In the next 14 days, Ellsworth plays its most important games of the season. On Thursday, Feb. 3, Ellsworth hosts Baldwin-Woodville. A win would mean that Ellsworth stays in the conference title race. A loss would make the path to a Middle Border Conference title much more challenging. The aforementioned three teams ahead of Ellsworth (6-3) include Prescott (6-2), Altoona (7-2), and Baldwin-Woodville (7-2).
After hosting Baldwin-Woodville on Thursday night, Ellsworth hosts Amery on Tuesday, Feb. 8, and then travels to Altoona on Friday, Feb. 11. All three games are slated to begin at 7 p.m. To say that the next two weeks are the most important of Ellsworth’s season would be an understatement.
Prescott falls to Altoona, Marshfield
Prescott is coming off of two tough losses against Altoona and Marshfield. The more important of the two was the 59-50 loss at home against Altoona, a game that – at least at that time – put Altoona in first place in the Middle Border Conference standings.
The hard-fought game between Prescott and Altoona on Tuesday, Jan. 25, in Prescott, was one of the most important games of the year for either team. The first 18 minutes of action left nothing to be desired. Prescott and Altoona were tied 27-27 going into the halftime intermission.
In the second half, Altoona began to pull away which forced Prescott to play the foul and free throw game late in the second half to try to keep any hope for a comeback alive. The comeback for the Cardinals fell short, and for the time being, put Altoona in first place in the standings, which has since transferred to Baldwin-Woodville.
Prescott’s scoring leaders for the game were Katrina Budworth with 16, Brynley Goehring with 13 and Lila Posthuma with 10 points. Altoona’s balanced scoring attack between the five starters was critical in the Railroaders’ success. Altoona had five players score at least eight points, Prescott only had three.
The loss dropped Prescott in the conference standings to their current position of third, trailing only Baldwin-Woodville and Altoona. The remainder of the regular season schedule is important for Prescott, as the remaining six games are all conference matchups.
The next game on the slate for Prescott is on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at home against Osceola. That game is slated to begin at 7 p.m.
River Falls struggles against New Richmond
A season of inconsistency continues for the River Falls girls basketball team. The most recent game for the Wildcats was on Friday, Jan. 28, when they traveled to New Richmond High School for a Big Rivers Conference matchup against the Tigers.
In that BRC game, New Richmond defeated River Falls 55-40, which dropped the Wildcats’ record to 6-12 for the season, including a 2-7 record in Big Rivers games. The loss for the Wildcats was another case of getting down big in the first half.
Going into the halftime intermission, River Falls trailed 30-14 and faced an uphill battle to get back into the game in the second half. Despite outscoring New Richmond 26-25 in the second half, River Falls couldn’t do enough to overcome the 16-point deficit at the break.
A majority of scoring for River Falls was done by junior guard Ella Peters, who finished the game with 15 points, nine rebounds, an assist, three steals and two blocks. The rest of the Wildcats roster was well below their average scoring numbers for the season, which contributed to the loss.
Defensively, River Falls struggled with stopping Brooke Blaszczyk and Gabby Aune, who had 20 and 15 points respectively for the lady Tigers. The Wildcats will look to bounce back against Hudson in their second meeting of the season on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at 7:15 p.m. in Hudson.
In their first meeting of the season, River Falls pulled off a massive upset on their home floor. Hudson entered the game a perfect 5-0 and River Falls went into that game with a winless record of 0-4. The Wildcats played their best basketball of the year and defeated a team that was coming off of a state championship game appearance in the previous season.
River Falls will need another fantastic effort on Tuesday night if the Wildcats want to defeat the Hudson Raiders, a team that has an 11-6 overall record and a 6-3 record in Big Rivers Conference play.