Fall Creek hoping turnaround starts this week

Tri-County Area Prep Boys Basketball Round-up

Is this the start of a turnaround for Fall Creek, especially for the second half of the Western Cloverbelt Conference schedule?

Head coach Rick Storlie is keeping his fingers crossed the Crickets can finally start playing and winning the way many envisioned at the start of the season but making no guarantees.

"Certainly we're at full strength for the the first time all season and when we can be a very good team," Storlie said. "But that can't carry us by itself. We have to play sound basketball on both ends of the floor and play with energy and purpose from now to the end of the season."

The hope this is the turnaround came last week Thursday, Jan. 11 at Chippewa Falls McDonell. There the Crickets snapped a six-game losing streak when sophomore guard Cullen Kramer sank a three-pointer with three seconds left in the ballgame to give the Crickets a big 65-62 victory. FC had four players in double figures led by Jack Walden's 17 points, 16 for Bo Vollrath, 12 for Kramer and 10 for Isaac Steinke. Fall Creek grabbed a whopping 37 rebounds to the Macks' 27. McDonell's Cael Holm led all scorers with 21 points. The Macks (9-3 overall) had four players in double figures too but after that only one other player scored and that was a single point while FC had contributions from players Jacob Wathke, Tyson Flottmeier and Miles Schmidgall. Steinke had team-bests in rebounds with 13, four assists and two steals. Vollrath finished with eight rebounds and five assists.

Progress continued on Tuesday, Jan. 16 at Cadott. The Crickets (5-8 overall) routed the Hornets (5-10) 74-40 using a big 38-16 second half to some space between both teams. FCHS was led by 21 points and 10 rebounds from Steinke, 11 points each from Flottmeier and Jack Walden and 10 points and seven rebounds from Vollrath. FC certainly had the energy to grab a whopping 42 rebounds. Brian Birdsall finished with a team-best four assists.

However, what gave Storlie pause about the future was another tough loss for the Crickets, 55-52 to Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau (12-2) on Saturday, Jan. 12 in the Midwest Players Classic held at the La Crosse Center. FC again struggled defending an opponents' top scorer as the Red Hawks' Cody Schmitz scored 30 to lead all scorers. Steinke finished with 18 points and Vollrath had 16 with eight points each coming from Kramer and Flottmeier. Vollrath also had nine rebounds, Wathke made three steals and Steinke had four blocks.

FC has several winnable games upcoming to help it gather momentum, especially before playing Osseo-Fairchild again at home on Jan. 30. While the Crickets are trying to right their ship the Thunder are having fun cruising as they did last week Thursday, Jan. 11 at home against Cadott, winning 81-42. The Thunder led from start to finish overwhelming the Hornets with their fast-break attack either to the rim or transition three-pointers, a key aspect of their offense.

"We're getting awesome coaching when it comes to outside shooting," O-F senior guard Lucas Frase said. "We take 50-100 threes in practice with a hand in our face and it's working. It's so much to play in this offense and see it clicking the way it is, the way we've wanted to see it runs since I've been a freshman is exciting to be a part of."

O-F made 11 trifectas against Cadott with sophomore forward Jack Steinke and Frase both sinking four each. Steinke finished with 18 points and Frase 14 but leading the way as he powered the fast break was senior guard Drake Swett with 22 points. In all 10 players scored for the Thunder with Mason Schmidt finishing with nine points and Tryggve Korger scoring six. Cadott was led by Braden Schneider's 14 points.

Despite a close loss to Eau Claire Regis (5-9) Tuesday, Jan. 16 by a 62-61 score at O-F, the Thunder still have the best record of all the Tri-County Area's teams at 9-4 overall. However, they have a tough upcoming schedule that will put their style to the test by hosting Stanley-Boyd (6-9) this Friday, Jan. 19, hosting a strong Spring Valley (10-4) squad Monday, Jan. 22 and taking on Chippewa Falls McDonell (10-3) Thursday, Jan. 25

Last week Eleva-Strum (1-11) picked up win one on the season 62-43 over Independence/Gilmanton in Gilmanton on Tuesday, Jan. 9. Carter Gunderson's 20 points along with 17 from Ty Fjelstad and 15 points from Brody Hanson led the way for E-S. Jovanny Stevens had a team-high 11 rebounds, Jake Bjerke had four blocks and Gunderson had four assists and three steals.

Recent good play against Cadott and Glenwood City (7-6) had E-S head coach Paul Janson confident that the Cards first win would soon be coming.

"(We) felt much better about how we played against Cadott and Glenwood City. But when you are searching to break through for that first win you can’t take anything for granted," Janson said. "The difference was we relaxed a little and had a little bit more fun. A lot of kids have stepped up and it hasn't always been the same ones and they've stepped up on both ends of the floor and in different categories such as scoring, defense and rebounding. Hopefully we can continue to move forward in a positive direction."

The Redbirds played another competitive contest, this one at home Monday, Jan. 15 vs. Elmwood/Plum City (4-7). However the outcome was a 56-48 loss. The Cardinal were unable to hold onto a 31-18 halftime lead as EPC's Blake Allen scored 11 of his game-best 12 points in the second half. Gunderson led Eleva-Strum with 19 points.

Augusta (1-13) dropped a game last week at Alma/Pepin (8-5) by a 77-39 score and this week Monday, Jan. 15 at unbeaten Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran (8-0) 57-39.

Boys Basketball Standings
(as of the morning of Jan. 17)
West Cloverbelt
Team W-L
Bloomer 7-0
Chippewa Falls McDonell 5-2
Eau Claire Regis 4-3
Osseo-Fairchild 4-3
Stanley-Boyd 4-3
Fall Creek 3-4
Thorp 1-6
Cadott 0-7

Last Week's Games
Thursday, Jan. 11
Stanley-Boyd 78, Eau Claire Regis 65
Fall Creek 65, Chippewa Falls McDonell 62
Osseo-Fairchild 81, Cadott 42
Bloomer 81, Thorp 52

This Week's Games
Tuesday, Jan. 16
Eau Claire Regis 62, Osseo-Fairchild 61
Bloomer 59, Stanley-Boyd 55
Fall Creek 74, Cadott 40
Chippewa Falls McDonell 68, Thorp 52

Friday, Jan. 19
Thorp at Fall Creek
Stanley-Boyd at Osseo-Fairchild
Chippewa Falls McDonell at Eau Claire Regis
Bloomer at Cadott

Next Week's Games
Thursday, Jan. 25
Eau Claire Regis at Bloomer
Chippewa Falls McDonell at Osseo-Fairchild
Stanley-Boyd at Fall Creek
Cadott at Thorp

Large Dairyland
Team W-L
Whitehall 5-1
Melrose-Mindoro 4-3
Blair-Taylor 3-4
Eleva-Strum 1-5
Augusta 1-6

Last Week's Games
Tuesday, Jan. 9
Lincoln 66, Blair-Taylor 58
Eleva-Strum 62, Independence/Gilmanton 43
Alma/Pepin 77, Augusta 38
Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran 66, Whitehall 54

Thursday, Jan. 11
Cochrane-Fountain City 73, Melrose-Mindoro 49

Friday, Jan. 12
Whitehall at Lincoln ppd.
Alma/Pepin at Blair-Taylor ppd.
Cochrane-Fountain City at Augusta ppd.
EC Imman. Luth at Eleva-Strum ppd.

This Week's Games
Monday, Jan. 15
Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran 57, Augusta 39
Alma/Pepin 67, Blair-Taylor 61

Thursday, Jan. 18
Melrose-Mindoro at Independence/Gilmanton
Alma/Pepin at Whitehall
Blair-Taylor at Cochrane-Fountain City
Lincoln at Eleva-Strum

Friday, Jan. 19
Cochrane-Fountain City at Augusta

Saturday, Jan. 20
Whitehall at Lincoln

Next Week's Games
Tuesday, Jan. 23
Cochrane-Fountain City at Whitehall
Eleva-Strum at Alma/Pepin
Independence/Gilmanton at Augusta
Melrose-Mindoro at Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran


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