Lauren Brendel

Lauren Brendel plays in a home game against Westby, Thursday, Jan. 4.

Eric Wuennenberg, Performance Photo

The Viroqua and Westby girls basketball teams squared off in a classic rivalry battle in the VHS gymnasium Thursday, Jan. 4. The Norse held the lead from beginning to end but the Hawks made it a one possession game, trailing 33-31 with 2:15 to play, but could get no closer, and the visitors escaped with a 40-31 win.

Late game free-throw shooting woes hurt the Blackhawks down the stretch. Trailing 33-30 with 4:20 left on the game clock, the Hawks converted on just 1-of-5 charity tosses, the only make was Brooke Knutson connecting on 1-of-2 bonus throws at the 2:15 mark. Viroqua finished the game 6-of-15 from the charity line, while Westby was 10-of-22 from the stripe.

“I thought it was our best defensive effort of the year,” said coach Joe Willis, “we were able to cause some turnovers that gave us some extra possessions in the game. It was a great team effort… and we had chances to change the outcome… if we had made a few more free throws.”

In fact, the Blackhawks converted eight Westby turnovers into 13 points, while the Norse tallied nine points off 13 Viroqua turnovers, a four-point advantage in the scoring column.

The Blackhawks (0-10 and 0-4 Coulee) created 35 scoring chances in the game, going 1-for-8 from three-point range and 11-of-27 from two-point territory. The Norse (4-8 and 2-4) took just 30 shots, finishing 2-of-6 from beyond the three-point line and 10-of-22 from two-point range.

Claire Anderson led the Hawks in scoring with 11 points, Natalie Waldenberger added 10, followed by Madelyn Anderson and Knutson with four each and Lauren Brendel two.

Kiarra Keenlance led the Norse with 11 and Kenzie VonRuden chipped in with 10.

The Blackhawks were scheduled to play at Onalaska Luther Jan. 9 before returning home to entertain West Salem Jan 12 and Prairie du Chien Jan. 15.

“I am optimistic going forward in 2018 that we will start chalking up some wins,” Willis said. “The girls are mentally strong and ready for next week’s challenges.”

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