Despite a career high 28-point performance by Viroqua’s Anthony Rappl, which featured a pair of clutch three-point baskets in the latter stages of the game, the Blackhawks fell short in a bid for their first win of the season, losing to West Salem 69-65. The first Coulee Conference game of the year for both teams was played in the VHS gymnasium, Tuesday, Dec. 5.

The Blackhawks trailed 36-32 at halftime. The Panthers held a 46-40 advantage with 10 minutes to play in the contest, when Rappl scored eight consecutive points for the Hawks, including 6-out-of-7 from the free-throw line.

Andrew Wedwick, another VHS junior, pulled the Blackhawks to within three points of the lead at 57-54, after pulling down a rebound on the defensive end and then driving coast-to-coast to score on a layup, with 6:30 left in the game.

After the two teams traded baskets, the visitors held a 62-58 lead when Rappl connected on the first of his long-range three’s with 3:37 remaining, cutting the lead to 62-61. The Panthers had pushed the lead back to four points at 66-62, with 55 seconds left on the game clock when Rappl drilled another three from the deep left corner, pulling the Hawks to within one point at 66-65.

The Panthers added two free-throws by Malachi Anthos and held a 68-65 lead when Wedwick came up just short on a three-point try with 12 seconds left. The Panthers sealed the game on another charity toss from Anthos.

Rappl’s 28-point effort led the Blackhawks, which included 8-of-12 from the free-throw line. Rappl, a VHS junior, was deadly from the field connecting on 8 out of 10 two point tries and 2 of 2 from behind the 3-point arc. Wedwick added 13 points, five assists and six steals, sophomore Jared Anderson chipped in with eight points and six rebounds off the bench, Sam Jett and Steve Diehl each scored 7.

Statistics also indicated this was a close game with the Panthers connecting on 25 field goals (49 percent), while the Blackhawks found the range for 23 field goals (47 percent), both teams converted 17 free-throws in the contest.

“We played our best game of the season…disappointing that we lost,” said Viroqua coach Joel Anderson.

West Salem improved to 1-1 on the season and 1-0 in the Coulee.

Viroqua vs. Sparta

The Blackhawks played host to Sparta Friday, Dec. 8, as a part of the second half of a basketball twin-bill, featuring girls and boys teams from the two schools.

The Blackhawks trailed by a 35-29 margin at the halftime break and saw the Spartans pull away in the second half for a 68-52 win. Wedwick led the Hawks with 17 points, Jett chipped in with a career-high 13, Diehl added 8, Rappl 6 and Anderson 4.

The Spartans, members of the Mississippi Valley Conference, won for the fourth time in five games, while the Blackhawks are still in search of their first victory of the young season. Four of the next five games are on the Hawks’ home court, with home games scheduled versus Arcadia Dec. 19, Lancaster Dec. 21, Mauston Jan. 2 and Onalaska Luther Jan. 11. VHS travels to Westby for the annual showdown with the Norsemen Jan. 5.

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