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Jordyn Hutzler

Rio's Jordyn Hutzler dives for a loose ball along the baseline during the first half of a Trailways West Conference game vs. Fall River on Tuesday night at Fall River High School.

FALL RIVER — It was as if the basket was greased.

But it wasn’t all just bad luck for Rio’s girls basketball team in the second half Tuesday night — Fall River’s defense had something to do with it.

The Pirates harassing pressure — and an unfriendly rim toward Rio — held the Vikings without a field goal for almost 13 minutes after the break and Fall River blew open a three-point halftime lead en route to a 54-43 Trailways West Conference victory, giving the defending league champions a key win as they try and jockey their way toward another crown.

“We’ve been hanging our hat on our defense. The Hutzler girls (Jordyn and Adeline, who combined for 22 points — with 20 of them coming from Jordyn) are really talented, so we tried to concentrate on that and to shut those kids down,” Fall River coach Jim Doolittle said. “I thought my kids did a really nice job with that.

“We started doubling the post — and I think that was the difference in the game.”

Fall River led 31-28 after the first 18 minutes but opened the second half on an 18-1 run, which was capped off by a 3-pointer by Rebecca Tramburg with 6 minutes, 20 seconds to go that gave the Pirates a 49-29 lead.

Rio (10-2, 4-2 Trailways West) didn’t get any breaks during that run, though, as several shots rattled out.

“Fatigue definitely played a factor with that and it does get frustrating, because it’s like, ‘Come on, come on — we’re close; we’re there.’ And then it’s just rimming out. So it is a little deflating at times,” said Rio coach Deb Hutzler, who attributed to fatigue — due to a lack of depth — as part of the reason for the dry spell.”

Meantime, Fall River (10-2, 5-1) — the fourth-ranked team in Division 5 according to the Associated Press — didn’t suffer the same fate, with Sam Leisemann scoring seven of her team-best 16 points after halftime and Lexi Rozinski putting in six of her 14 points after the break to lead the way.

The Pirates simply couldn’t keep up.

“We need to find a little bit more consistent energy from (some) of our kids; we’d go three or four possessions with our hands in the passing lanes and giving help, and then one possession we would back off and they would take advantage,” Deb Hutzler said. “And Fall River is too good of a team to leave unguarded — simple as that.”

Still, Deb Hutzler was more than impressed with the effort Jordyn gave.

“Jordyn had to play (almost) every second of that game — I think she had a 30-second break — and still played (great) defense and she still gave 110 percent effort on that floor, every single possession,” Deb said. “So I give kudos to her, because I’m not sure any other girl in the conference can give that kind of energy.”

It was a valiant effort by Jordyn, but it came in vain as Fall River got an important win to keep pace with Markesan, which defeated Randolph — ranked eighth in D5 — by the score of 39-32 in overtime.

“I’m very pleased with the win, but we’ve got some work to do,” Doolittle said. “We’ll have to see what happened with Markesan and Randolph tonight — Markesan is the team everybody is chasing now.”

Rio 28 15 — 43

Fall River 31 23 — 54

RIO — Canales 1 4-4 7, J. Hutzler 6 9-15 20, Sampson 1 0-0 2, Graham 1 0-0 2, Hagenow 2 0-0 4, A. Hutzler 0 2-4 2, Quist 3 0-0 6. Totals 13 15-23 43.

FALL RIVER — Schwartz 1 0-0 2, H. Gregorio 3 0-0 6, Van Gysel 1 0-1 2, M. Gregorio 2 4-5 8, Rozinski 5 4-5 14, Tramburg 1 3-4 6, Leisemann 6 4-7 16. Totals 19 15-22 54.

3-point goals — RIO 2 (Canales 1, J. Hutzler 1), FR 1 (Tramburg 1). Total fouls — RIO 21, FR 21. Fouled out — J. Hutzler.

Assistant Regional Sports Editor

Capital Newspapers Assistant Regional Sports Editor