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High school girls basketball: Onalaska Luther can't get past C-FC

ONALASKA — The Onalaska Luther High School girls basketball team didn't finish the first half the way it wanted to on Tuesday, and that made for a difficult hole to dig out of against Cochrane-Fountain City on Tuesday.

The Pirates scored 16 of the final 18 first-half points on the way to a 45-39 victory over the Knights in a nonconference matchup that kept Luther looking for its first win this season.

Junior Hannah Matzke scored 13 points, and senior teammate Rachel Koenig added 10 for the Knights (0-2), who turned the ball over 24 times and couldn't regain the lead after giving it up with 3 minutes, 51 seconds remaining in the first half.

"I think it's important that we now show that we can handle adversity," Luther coach Ryan Svendsen said. "Losing the first two games of a season can definitely hurt a team, and we have to make sure we look for the answers and not the excuses after this game."

The Knights had success early by getting good touches for Koenig, who has committed to play at NCAA Division II Bemidji State next season. The 6-foot-2 post scored five quick points and turned an offensive rebound into an assist to help Luther take a 9-2 lead.

The Pirates (2-1) scored the first basket before that run by the Knights, but didn't score again until 8:07 remained in the half. That basket, however, got them going.

Luther took its final lead at 13-12 when freshman Allie Zittel turned a steal into two free throws with 4:20 on the clock.

C-FC, which rebounded from a loss to Durand, answered with a 3-pointer by sophomore Isabella Holzer and scored the final 11 points of the half. The Knights missed three free throws down the stretch, and Mikayla Stiehl's putback in the final minute gave the Pirates a 23-13 halftime lead.

The Knights were within four points in two occasions during the second half — Audrey Zittel's 3-pointer made it 29-25 with 13:11 left, and two Brianna Zenke free throws cut the C-FC lead to 35-31 with 8:53 left — before the Pirates found answers.

Two Haili Brone free throws pushed the Pirates' lead to 45-35 with 1:29 left before the Knights scored twice prior to the buzzer.

Koenig had nine rebounds and three blocked shots for Luther, but it was tough to get her consistent offensive touches against a gritty C-FC defense, which was just as effective in the post as it was when pressuring in the backcourt.

"Ball security," Svendsen said. "We turned it over too much, and we'll have to find the answers to that."


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