Mike McDermott, Contributor
On Dec. 28, the RV girls squared off with Barneveld in a non-conference matchup. The Blackhawks came into the game looking for their second win against five losses, while Barneveld was playing their first game of the season. Unfortunately for the RV girls, this game would be close throughout, but Barneveld ultimately prevailed 42-37.
Both teams came out of the gate cold in this one, with the Blackhawks notching the first basket of the night more than three minutes in, on a nice feed from Charlotte Ferstl to Ava Liegel. An Emily Esser three-pointer put the Valley girls up 5-1 but points continued to be hard to come by for both sides.
Liegel scored again to put RV up 9-7 midway through the first half. Baskets by Esser, Anna Johnson, and Sophia Haas keyed an 8-0 Blackhawk run, giving the home team its largest lead of the half at 17-10.
Strong work on the defensive end held Barneveld down, and the Hawks carried a 21-14 lead into the intermission. Emily Esser tried to stretch that lead to 10 with a thrilling last second steal and three, but it bounced out.
Having a half of game competition under their belts seemed to relax the Barneveld squad, as they ran off eight points in the first two minutes of the 2nd half to take a 22-21 lead.
An Esser free throw and a Haas three put the brakes on the Eagle’s run, but frequent turnovers prevented RV from gaining momentum at the offensive end of the floor. Still, their feisty defensive work and missed FT’s by Barneveld kept this one close. Brooke Anderson dialed up a three-ball to close the gap to 33-31 with six minutes left, and Ferstl’s shot from the elbow tied the score shortly after.
Two quick buckets by the visitors gave them a four point lead, and Valley still fought back with free throws from Anderson and a 12 footer off the glass by Esser. Trailing 38-37 with just under four minutes left, the RV girls were not able to get a shot to drop the rest of the way, falling 42-37.
Coach Brent Johnson felt the game got away from the Blackhawks after halftime, adding, “We came out kinda flat in the second half and we didn’t really stick to the game plan of what we wanted to do, which was establish the post early against the zone and then when the shots didn’t fall; we ended up with too many empty possessions. As a team, we need to play more consistent to pull out wins against good competition.”
Emily Esser paced the Blackhawks with 10 points on the night. Sophia Haas contributed 9, Anderson had 5 and Liegel threw in 4. Haas and Morgan Brickl played valuable minutes coming off the bench in this game.
The RV Girls took on Lodi on Jan. 5
From the Coach
The River Valley Girls basketball team had three games to end December and unfortunately were unable to come away with a victory in the contests. Two of the three games were extremely competitive and the Blackhawks played at a high level for large portions of the games.
In the first game, the Blackhawks hosted rival Richland Center in a SWC conference match-up. River Valley and the Hornets battled to a 25 to 21 score at the end of the first half with the Hornets holding the advantage. In the second half, Richland Center pulled away by outscoring River Valley by ten points to post a 51 -37 victory. The Blackhawks were led by seniors Emily Esser with 10 points and Sophia Haas with 9 points. Nine different players scored for the Blackhawks.
The next game, River Valley hosted Barneveld in a non-conference contest. The Blackhawks raced out to a 25 to 14 lead in the first half led by sophomores Charlotte Ferstl and Brooke Anderson who combined for 19 first half points. The Golden Eagles mounted a comeback in the second half and found their scoring touch as they put up 28 points compared to nine for the Blackhawks. The final result was 42 to 34. Ferstl led the Blackhawks with 13 points and Anderson finished with 10 points. Senior Emily Esser chipped in with six points.
The final game of December proved to be a rough outing for the Blackhawks. Playing in back to back games and traveling to Division 2 Sauk Prairie; River Valley fell to an athletic and talented Sauk Prairie team. Unable to get anything positive going offensively the Blackhawks fell by a final score of 59 -11. The Blackhawks will be busy to start the new year as they have three games scheduled for the first full week of January. River Valley will travel to Lodi on Tuesday and Dodgeville on Thursday before hosting Platteville on Saturday.
—Brent Johnson, Head Girls Basketball Coach