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WESTFIELD — When the Mauston girls basketball team hosted Westfield earlier this season, the Golden Eagles were caged to the tone of 21 points.

The offensive struggles continued for Mauston on Feb. 8 as the Golden Eagles fell to the Pioneers, 38-25, in a South Central Conference game at Westfield Area High School. Senior Lauren Franek scored a team-high eight points as the Golden Eagles fell for the fourth straight time to the Pioneers.

“I can’t fault our effort,” Mauston coach Lori Hammer said. “I thought we had a really good game plan, we just got a little nervous in the half-court offense and made some passes and decisions that didn’t help us out.”

It was far from pretty in the early going as the teams had combined for a just five points through the first 4½ minutes before the Pioneers (9-9, 4-4 South Central) strung together a drawn-out 8-0 run to take an 11-2 lead.

The Pioneers’ defensive pressure created 11 Golden Eagles turnovers during the stretch, one of Mauston’s biggest nemeses this year. While Hammer, credited the Pioneers defense, Mauston didn’t do itself any favors.

“Some of it is their pressure and some of it is just our decision making, and we’ve struggled with that all year,” she said. “Just catching the ball, squaring up and looking down the floor, we just panic a little bit.”

Mauston (2-6 South Central) eventually shook off their struggles, quadrupling their point total in the final 5 minutes of the half to trim the Pioneers’ lead to 17-10 at the break. After back-to-back jumpers from Fanek, junior Marina Orlowski added a layup with 1:15 remaining.

Sophomore Paige Navis closed out the stretch with a jumper with 20 seconds left. The Golden Eagles were unable to build off their strong close to the half as Westfield responded with an 8-2 run coming out of the locker room.

After a jumper by Westfield senior Lily Wagner jumper, junior Tahya Reetz hit a long jumper to make it 21-10 with just under 16 minutes remaining. Sophomore Lexi Brakebush later added a steal and a layup before Mauston junior Bridget Gunther and Westfield junior Iris Slotten traded layups to make it 25-12 with 12:35 to go.

“We always talk about the first four minutes and within that, you obviously want to close that gap within at least half,” Hammer said. “We just had a really hard time getting some shots up that would help us.”

Golden Eagles sophomore Matti Wafle hit a bucket to make it 25-14, but Mauston never got closer, as Westfield answered with a 5-1 stretch over the next 7-plus minutes to take a 32-15 lead with 7:02 left.

A three-point play by Orlowski pulled Mauston within 32-20 with 3:20 remaining, but Westfield countered with six straight points to close the door. Behind Franek, Orlowski and Gunther each added five points.

While they were limited to just 25 points, Hammer noted that the Golden Eagles offense began to gel and create some good chances. Converting on those opportunities, however is where Mauston must improve.

“Some of it I think is just our confidence in shooting and driving to the basket,” Hammer said. “That was some of the issue tonight, that we’re a little tentative to shoot and a little tentative to drive to the basket. I think if the girls do that, it will help them out towards the end of the season.”

Onalaska Luther 59, Mauston 20

The Golden Eagles were unable to sort their offensive woes out with a 59-20 non-conference loss to Onalaska Luther on Feb. 9 at Luther High School.

Mauston, which dropped its fourth straight game, was again led by Franek who had a team-high eight points.

Another poor first half spelled doom for the Golden Eagles, as Mauston was held to just six points in the opening 18 minutes as it fell behind 35-6 at the break and never recovered.

Mauston 10 15 — 25

Westfield 17 21 — 38

MAUSTON — Orlowski 2 1-1 5, Kobylski 0 0-2 0, Franek 4 0-0 8, Gunther 2 0-0 5, Spaulding 1 1-3 3, Wafle 1 0-0 2, Navis 1 0-0 2. Totals 11 2-6 25.

WESTFIELD — Dillman 2 0-0 4, Brakebush 4 3-3 12, Reetz 5 0-2 10, Wallace 1 0-0 2, Slotten 1 0-0 2, Wagner 2 2-2 6, Hockerman 0 2-2 2. Totals 15 7-9 38.

3-point goals — M 1 (Gunther 1), W 1 (Brakebush 1). Total fouls — M 14, W 18. Fouled out — M (Hammer).

Mauston 6 14 — 20

Luther 35 24 — 59

MAUSTON — Hammer 1 2-2 4, Orlowski 1 0-2 2, Franek 4 0-0 8, Gunther 1 0-0 2, Spaulding 1 2-2 4. Totals 8 4-6 20.

LUTHER — Warren 1 2-4 4, Kennedy 5 5-8 15, Hoppe 2 0-0 4, R. Koenig 3 2-2 8, Bolstad 1 0-1 2, Manke 4 0-0 8, Kasten 1 3-4 5, Wahl 2 2-2 6, A. Koenig 3 1-2 7. Totals 22 15-25.

3-point goals — M 0, L 0. Total fouls — M 18, L NA. Fouled out — M (Navis).

Regional Sports Reporter

Regional Sports Reporter