RF, Elmwood/Plum City, Spring Valley girls basketball teams all fall in playoffs

Posted 3/8/22

By Reagan Hoverman It was a tough first and second round of the playoffs for most girls basketball teams in Pierce County. River Falls, Elmwood/Plum City and the Spring Valley girls basketball teams …

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RF, Elmwood/Plum City, Spring Valley girls basketball teams all fall in playoffs


By Reagan Hoverman

It was a tough first and second round of the playoffs for most girls basketball teams in Pierce County. River Falls, Elmwood/Plum City and the Spring Valley girls basketball teams all got knocked out in either the first or second round of the WIAA playoffs.

River Falls was the only one of the three aforementioned Pierce County teams to reach the second round of the playoffs. The Wildcats began their playoff journey with a first-round matchup against Tomah.

The Wildcats struggled to get going in the first half against Tomah. River Falls head coach Ian Sticht spoke about what took his team nearly the entire first half to get the offense flowing.

“After being on the bus for so long, we figured it would take us a while to get going, which in this case, basically took us the entire first half,” Sticht said. “Emily (Van Ausdal) hit a huge shot right before the half that really got us going and gave us the boost we needed to start the second half.”

Van Ausdal’s shot before the half not only got the offense going, but it helped give the team confidence which spread to all aspects of the Wildcats’ game. According to Sticht, that one shot by Van Ausdal completely changed the game.

“From then on, we controlled everything about the game,” Sticht said. “Offensively, we were getting the shots we wanted and defensively we were getting Tomah to take the shots we wanted them to and doing a great job of limiting their best players.”

Computer seeding has been a highly contested topic among high school sports coaches, players, fans and media. While Sticht had nothing polarizing to say, he did say he wasn’t sure what to expect with the first-round matchup against Tomah.

“Honestly, with the computer seeding happening this year for the first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect from our first-round game,” Sticht said. “I was fairly confident we were the GIRLS HOOPS

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better team going into that game based on comparable opponents and from watching film.”

River Falls proved to be the better team. In the second half, the Wildcats controlled both times of the floor and took advantage of the matchups that they liked. The stellar final 18 minutes led to a 54-36 victory to advance to the regional semi-final game against the top-seeded Rice Lake Warriors.

River Falls, a nine seed, went into the game as a heavy underdog against the Warriors. The Wildcats played a highly competitive first half against Rice Lake and at the halftime intermission, trailed by only two points, 25-23. In the second half, River Falls continued to compete and even led by two with seven minutes left. Sticht spoke about those last seven minutes.

“We were up two with just over seven minutes left and didn’t score again the rest of the game,” Sticht said. “We did a great job of attacking their zone, which we didn’t do the other two times that we played them. We tried to attack it a little differently and with only one day of practice to work on it, I thought our players did a great job.”

Attacking the zone well helped River Falls keep the game close with the #1 seed in the region. He also said that limiting post touches and second-chance opportunities changed the game and kept the Wildcats close.

However, in those final seven minutes, Rice Lake held River Falls scoreless. Coach Sticht spoke about those closing minutes and what swung the game in favor of the Warriors.

“I think the difference was some of our shots didn’t fall that fell earlier in the game,” Sticht said. “We continued to have great possessions that ended with a great shot. They had some of their role players hit a couple of threes that really took the wind out of our sails late in the game.”

The loss sent River Falls home in the regional semi-final matchup. Once the season ended, coach Sticht was able to reflect on the season and the team that he had this year.

“I think we all felt like we did not meet the expectations we set for ourselves,” Sticht said. “There were some games that we felt really good about, but there were also a lot of games that we knew we were not our best in.”

While the 2021-22 season for River Falls wasn’t a huge success, there is a bright future for a young Wildcat roster. This season’s roster featured no seniors and only a handful of juniors. Sticht spoke about returning his entire team for next season.

“We are really excited to return our entire team next year,” Sticht said. “Our message has been the only thing that happens next year is we will be one year older. Unless we put in the work in the gym and the weight room, the results will be the same as this year. The only way we will take the next step is by working harder than everyone else.”

Spring Valley falls to Fall Creek 55-15

For the Spring Valley girls basketball team, the first-round matchup was not a favorable one. The lady Cardinals had to go on the road as the #12 seed and play a fifth-seeded Fall Creek squad.

From the opening tip, Spring Valley struggled. The Cardinals couldn’t get shots to fall early and Fall Creek took advantage. Perhaps it was just Fall Creek getting hot, as they cruised to a 55-15 victory at home against Spring Valley and then went on to topple the top-seeded team in the region, Osseo-Fairchild.

Spring Valley ends the season with an overall record of 6-19 and with a record of 3-11 in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference standings. The Cardinals are young, and the play of sophomore guard Mara Ducklow will be something to watch in the coming years.

With development from Ducklow and other young players, Spring Valley could be a team to watch next season in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference.

Elmwood/Plum City Falls to Mondovi 40-32

The Elmwood/Plum City Wolves also had an early exit in the playoffs. The seventh-seeded Wolves had a home playoff game on Wednesday, Feb. 23 against a Dunn-St. Croix Conference opponent in Mondovi.

The two teams had met two previous times this year. They split 1-1 in the first two games and the first-round playoff game on Wednesday night served as the rubber match for the season. Elmwood/Plum City battled throughout the first half and took an 18-14 lead into the intermission.

However, the second half proved to be the toughest of the season. Mondovi put together multiple scoring runs in the final 18 minutes of action and outscored the Wolves 26-14 in the process. The second-half dominance by Mondovi gave Elmwood/Plum City a 32-40 defeat in the first round of the playoffs.

Leading the charge for Mondovi was Ava Gray, who finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, an assist and a steal. For the Wolves, it was senior forward Maggie Glaus who led her team in scoring with 17 points, nine rebounds and four steals.

The Wolves finished the season with an overall record of 13-11, including a 7-7 record in Dunn-St. Croix Conference play. Elmwood/Plum City also loses some valuable seniors to graduation in Hailee McDonough, Maggie Glaus, Halle Gilles and Hannah Baier.

Photo by Reagan Hoverman