EAU CLAIRE — Eau Claire Memorial needed a win to stay in Big Rivers Conference championship contention.
What better way to get it than to go out and shoot the ball well.
The Old Abes cashed in 12 3-pointers, hit 50 percent field goal shooting and it allowed them to lead all the way in a 74-51 win over dangerous rival Chippewa Falls Friday night at the Eagles Nest.
“We moved the ball well, got it inside and kicked it out to the open man,” said Ethan Van Grunsven, who contributed three of the 3-pointers in an 11-point effort. “My teammates created a lot for me. It was mostly my teammates.”
He could have been speaking for the others as Tanner Linduski hit four in a 22-point effort, Caden Boser and Connor Stoik, making his first start, contributed two and Simon Larson one.
It came as little surprise to Chippewa Coach Jason Proue, who saw his team lose to the Abes 72-58 at Chippewa Falls earlier.
“They shot the ball well at our place,” Proue said. “Our scouting reports also indicated they shoot well.”
It was the difference in the game as Boser hit two 3-pointers and Stoik one to open the game. The Abes went on to total seven in the first half, building a lead as big as 16 and settling for a 34-23 halftime margin.
“Chippewa converged on Boser inside so we looked for the perimeter-based shot,” Memorial Coach Chad Brieske said. “We took what they gave us. Our guys came in with the mindset of shooting well from the outside.”
On the other hand, Chippewa struggled from long range, making just three of 18. Their effective game came on the inside with 6-7 Tyler Robarge dominating the paint. He scored 16 points and got help from Joe Reuter with 11 and Peyton Rogers-Schmidt with eight.
“They have size and athleticism and are extremely dangerous,” Brieske said. “Any time you can sweep a team like that, it’s big.”
Proue felt his team was still in the game into the second half, cutting the 11-point margin to four at 34-30 on a 3-pointer by Luke Franz and baskets by Alex Nelson and Robarge.
“We came out at halftime with a lot of energy and played well,” Proue said. “Then they started hitting baskets.”
Van Grunsven’s 3-pointer stopped the charge and moments later Linduski drilled back-to-back 3-pointers and the Abe lead was back into double figures.
“He’s (Linduski) a really smart basketball player,” Brieske said. “He’s unselfish offensively and plays off his teammates.”
Boser, who came in averaging well over 20 points, was limited to seven field shots and scored only 12 points but worked well with his teammates.
In posting a season’s 10th win, the Abes raised their Big Rivers record to 6-3. They are tied with River Falls with three losses and both trail Hudson, which has only two setbacks.
Chi-Hi hosts Menomonie on Tuesday.