Fall Creek's upset of McDonell gives them a shot at the title

Tri-County Area Prep Girls Basketball Round-up (from Jan. 30 - Feb. 6)

For whatever reason, Fall Creek, which had been ensconsed in the top 10 of the Wissports.net Coaches Poll (https://www.wissports.net/girls-basketball-coaches-poll) for much of the regular season, was recently dropped from it despite the fact the Crickets had a win over No. 9 ranked Neillsville.

If the Crickets (18-3 overall) don't make next week's poll after upsetting No. 2 Chippewa Falls McDonell (19-2) Tuesday evening, Feb. 6, by a 49-45 score in Fall Creek, then it will be obvious they really don't have any friends among the pollsters.

For FC certainly made themselves top 10 worthy again with a spectacular performance on defense, confusing the Macks with mixes and switches, getting off to a great start on offense to lead 29-20 at halftime and by as many as 13 points in the second half and holding off McDonell's expected run (the Mighty Macks cut FC's lead to one at 43-42 late in the second half) by forcing three empty possessions on offense in the final minutes while making their free-throws.

Sophie Schmidgall had a team-high 10 points for FC while Kennedy Tumm, Gracie Martin and Kambel Sell each had nine points. It was Sell and Tumm who made the shots at the charity stripe late to lead Fall Creek to a huge win and whose rubber match may very well come in the sectional tournament semifinals.

FC's only loss since the turn of the calendar year was to McDonell by a 64-44 score in Chippewa Falls in early January. And most important, the Crickets now have played themselves into a chance to clinch a tie for the Western Cloverbelt Conference title if they win at Cadott on Friday, Feb. 9. FC closes out its regular season with a home non-conference game vs. Colfax on Monday, Feb. 12 and will play its Cloverbelt Crossover match-up on Saturday, Jan. 17 at Osseo-Fairchild beginning at 6 p.m.

FCHS also won a hard-fought match-up Thursday, Feb. 1 against Bloomer (9-12) by a 48-44 score and walloped Melrose-Mindoro 71-35 in a non-conference match-up played at Just A Game Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells on Saturday, Feb. 3. Against the Blackhawks, Sell led the way with 16 points, Jasmin Heuer scored 12 points and Tumm had eight points.

Osseo-Fairchild extended its winning streak to four to improve to 12-10 overall with a pair of recent wins. Last week Thursday, Feb. 1 the Thunder crushed Thorp (3-19) by a 70-36 score at Thorp, then won at Cadott (9-12) on Tuesday, Feb. 6 by a 56-48 margin. Four players were in double figures for the Thunder against Thorp: Halle Colby with a team-high 17 points, Hailie Knudtson with 14, Hanna Giacomino with 11 and Addi Koxlien with 10 points. Both Chloe Gunderson and Bryssa Johnson each scored six points as O-F blew the game open in the second half, outscoring the Cardinals 34-16. Against Cadott, the Thunder trailed at halftime 23-21 but came back in the second half to outscore the Hornets 35-25, led by 18 points each for Knudtson and Koxlien. Giacomino finished with 11 points. O-F closes out at Eau Claire Regis on fFiday, Feb. 9 and then its Cloverbelt Crossover game next Thursday, Feb. 15 at the East Cloverbelt opponent at 7:15 p.m. A win over the Ramblers would assure at least a winning season for the Thunder and probably a good seed in the WIAA regionals as the seeding meetings are this weekend.

The Tri-County Area's Large Dairyland Conference rivals Augusta and Eleva-Strum clashed last night in Augusta, Senior Night for AHS's lone two seniors Neveah Bergman and Olivia Meyer and their final regular season home game as well. It went better for E-S than the home team as the Cardinals built up a good-sized, double-digit lead in the first half and early in the second half and pushed back at an AHS surge in the middle of the second half for a 55-42 win. After several close losses in recent games, the Cardinals were certainly happy to have a comfortable win but at times there was a lack of comfort for Central (5-17), as the Beavers (3-17) cut a 16-point lead down to four at 39-35 at the 8:20 mark before solid defense and free-throw shooting won the day. The Cards made 21-of-32 free-throws compared to Augusta's 11-of-18

"I'll be honest, I thought we played better basketball in some of our losses than we did tonight," E-S head coach J.B. Grangaard said. "But we also showed a lot of growth in learning how to win. We took care of the ball and we made our free-throws and that's something we've struggled at in close games throughout the season."

Avery Glenz and Avaya Zwiefelhofer both scored 12 points (Glenz made seven free-throws and Zwiefelhofer had five). Aliza Kulig and Annika Skoug each had nine points for E-S and Maddea Brown scored eight.

Zwiefelhofer's return from injury has been a boost to the Cards' line-up, as evident in their win over Augusta and Grangaard said he can't until other Cardinal players get fully healthy too for the upcoming playoffs.

"We're excited to see what we can accomplish when we're completely healthy and ready," Grangaard said. "We've made a lot of progress from the start of the season with a young team and we want to keep it going for as long as we can."

Indeed, E-S has been in some close tussles as of late. Last week they fell in their final two home games of the regular season, 43-37 against Whitehall (13-7) on Jan. 30, as the Norse reversed a 19-13 halftime deficit by outscoring Central 30-18 in the second half led by Olivia Killian's 16 points, and 63-59 to Melrose-Mindoro (12-9) on Thursday, Feb. 1, again leading at halftime. Against Whitehall, Glenz, the Large Dairyland's leading scorer averaging 15.5 points per game, had 13 points while Kulig and Zwiefelhofer both scored seven points. Versus Mel-Min,, Kulig had a season-best 18 points, Glenz scored 13 and Zwiefelhofer had 12 points. But the Mustangs had four players in double-figures led by Cooper Zeman's game-high 22. E-S is off until they conclude the regular season at Blair-Taylor (7-14) on Thursday, Feb. 15.

Killian also had a big game scoring against Mel-Min. on Tuesday, Feb. 6 in leading the Norse to a 72-60 win and a one-game lead in in the Large Dairyland standings. Augusta closes out with games against both teams (this week Friday at Mel-Min. and next Thursday at Whitehall. Sandwiched in between is a rescheduled contest at Independence/Gilmanton (14-7) on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

Augusta's top scorers vs. Eleva-Strum were Stella Zank with 12 points and Brooklyn Krueger with 11 and Cecelia Schroeder finished with eight points. The Beavers also lost last week Thursday, Feb. 1 at Blair-Taylor by a 56-32 score. Like E-S, the Beavers have improved since the beginning of the season and have played competitively as of recent, only trailing B-T 14-11 at halftime before being outscored 42-21 in the second half.


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