The calendar might have said November, but the intensity and environment said playoff time.
The Holmen Vikings girls basketball team took advantage of a bevy of Chi-Hi Cardinals fouls, grabbing 25 of their 51 points at the charity stripe on their way to a 51-45 victory on Friday evening at Chi-Hi.
Chi-Hi (1-1) struggled with foul trouble playing without starters Kayla Hanley, Alissa Adams and Kayla Rubenzer as well as reserve Courtney Passint for much of the game. Adams, Passint and Rubenzer fouled out in the final 2:10 of the game.
The Vikings overall were 25-for-38 from the charity stripe, including a perfect 6-for-6 in the final 40.6 seconds of the game to ice the victory.
“Foul trouble and free throws for us (were problems),” Chi-Hi coach Alison Becker said. “I always say fouls, free throws and finish your layups. It came down to that.”
Holmen got into the bonus early in each half and reached the double bonus in each half, giving them plenty of chances at the free throw line.
Chi-Hi took a 24-16 lead to halftime, but in the second half Hanley and Passint each picked up their fourth foul, sending them to the bench. That’s when the Vikings started their run, going on a 10-0 run after Passint left the game to grab their first lead of the game at 30-28 with 1:57 left in the third. They extended that lead to 33-28 at the end of the third.
“The third quarter was the key, we made one little mental lapse, a couple there in the fourth quarter,” Holmen coach Duane Vike said. “We threw one out of bounds and we did something else that wasn’t real sharp but then we regrouped at that two-minute mark and I thought we played pretty well down the stretch.”
In the fourth, Holmen extended their lead to as high as six points before the Cardinals made their move. First, Rubenzer drilled a 3-pointer with 3:11 left to cut the lead to three. After a Holmen free throw, Janna Fjelstad made a basket and Rubenzer followed that up with another 3-pointer to put Chi-Hi on top 43-42 and send the hometown crowd into a frenzy.
Chi-Hi retook the lead with 1:54 left on a pair of free throws from Fjelstad, but from there the Vikings ended the game on an 8-0 run to pull away with the win.
“We tried to play good defense without fouling,” Vike said. “We’re probably not as physically strong or aggressive as Chippewa (Falls) is but we made our free throws down the stretch and I thought we had an excellent third quarter.”
Rubenzer led the Cardinals with a team-high 15 points. Fjelstad added 10 points, including eight in the first half.
Claudia Becker had 15 points to lead Holmen and was one of four Vikings to finish in double figures.
“We’ve got to learn to toughen up and sprint and get in front (on defense) and make them change direction,” Becker said.
The Cardinals are back in action on Tuesday at La Crosse Logan in their final tuneup before kicking off the Big Rivers Conference season on Friday at Eau Claire Memorial.
“Holmen’s a good team,” Becker said. “We just took ourselves out of it with foul trouble.”
HOLMEN 51, CHI-HI 45
Holmen 5 9 17 18 — 51
Chi-Hi 10 14 4 17 — 45
HOLMEN: Davis 10, Schuster 16, Becker 13, Russell 11, Buccelli 1. (12 25-38 X 51)
CHI-HI: Fjelstad 10, Roshell 2, Kay. Rubenzer 15, Hanley 8, Bedford 4, Passint 2, Kai. Rubenzer 3, McElroy 1. (15 8-14 X 45)
3-Point Goals: Holmen (4): Schuster 3, Becker 1. Chi-Hi (4): Kay. Rubenzer 2, Hanley 1, Kai. Rubenzer 1.
Fouled out: Holmen: None. Chi-Hi: Kay. Rubenzer, Adams, Passint.