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Mauston nearly rallied all the way back from a 17-point deficit, but its comeback bid fell just short against Westfield.

The Pioneers (1-4 overall, 1-2 South Central) topped the Golden Eagles (1-2, 0-1) 42-35 in both teams’ South Central Conference opener Friday, Dec. 1 in Mauston. It was Westfield’s first win since beating Nekoosa Feb. 18, 2016. The Pioneers went 0-23 overall and 0-10 in conference play last season.

“In the first half, we just sat back too much,” said Mauston head coach Lori Hammer. “We didn’t pressure, we didn’t push, we didn’t recognize who the shooters were … we just didn’t have any energy in that first half.”

Westfield got off to a very quick start, thanks in large part to sophomore guard Taylor Bignell. The Pioneers were on fire from the field and roared out to an 18-5 lead midway through the first half. Mauston senior point guard Trisha Spinelli engineered a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to 18-11, but Westfield extended the lead back to 24-13 at halftime.

The Golden Eagles had no answer in the first half for Bignell, who scored 15 points by the break.

The early stages of the second half were more of the same, as the Pioneers pushed their lead to 34-17. However, Mauston refused to go down without a fight.

The Golden Eagles answered back with an 18-6 run of their own to slash the 17-point deficit all the way down to five with less than a minute and a half to play. But despite having a couple opportunities to cut the Westfield lead even more, they could get no closer.

The Pioneers held on for their first win in 21.5 months and Mauston dropped its second straight game despite a valiant comeback attempt.

“The second half was much better,” Hammer said. “The defense really picked the pace up for us. Once we got some steals and we could transition a little bit and got some shots to fall, then our heads lifted up a little bit and we just kind of went after it.”

“It’s tough to lose that game, but we came back from a 17-point deficit, down to a five-point deficit and lost by seven with those free throws at the end. So I think we’re just going to build on that second half.”

Bignell led all scorers with 17 points and senior power forward Liz Smith added nine more for Westfield. For Mauston, senior power forward Skyylar Brescia finished the night with 16 points, while senior forward Kelsey Georgeson and Spinelli added seven and six points, respectively.

The Golden Eagles will look to snap their two-game losing streak when they host Black Rivers Falls in a non-conference game Tuesday, Dec. 5.