CHIPPEWA FALLS – Chippewa Falls’ first-half run didn’t happen in a hurry.
It didn’t need to, as the Cardinals were consistent enough to keep their momentum moving until the game was all but sealed.
Chippewa Falls’ slow-burning 28-6 run in the first 13-plus minutes of the game boosted the Cardinals to a 75-47 win over Eau Claire North on Tuesday at Chi-Hi. The Cardinals used their opportunities well when they had the chance while the Huskies struggled to get shots to fall.
“We started a pretty solid defensive game,” Chippewa Falls coach Becca Bestul said. “We had open shots at the beginning. We had good shots. Not all of them went in immediately, it kind of took a while, but once we got that going on offense we knew we could stop them on defense. That was helpful.”
Chippewa Falls (1-2, 1-0) ensured there would be no comeback by opening the second half with an 11-0 run.
Aaliyah McMillan scored a game-high 19 points for the Cardinals. Caelan Givens, who scored 17 points, scored 11 of Chippewa Falls’ first 24 points. Laura Swenson led the Huskies (1-3, 0-1) with 16 points.
After Jenna Haselwander scored North’s first basket a little over four minutes into the game, the Huskies endured another four-minute drought until their next basket.
“We had a very cold start. It took us a while to find a rhythm out there and get some movement on offense that created open looks,” North coach Jill Elliott said.
Holding a 16-4 lead with nine minutes left in the first half, the Cardinals extended their lead to 27-4 with a quick 11-0 run. Givens scored five points during that stretch.
“In practice we’ve been working on defense a lot,” McMillan said. “For this game we locked down on them and did very well.”
North scored six unanswered late in the half as a zone defense helped slow down the Cardinals briefly, but Chippewa Falls closed the half on a 10-4 run powered by five points by Aaliyah McMillan.
Both teams picked up plenty of points at the charity stripe in a game that saw both enter the bonus in the first half fairly early.
The co-champions of the Big Rivers along with Hudson last season, Chippewa Falls picked up its first win of the season after a 0-2 start. The Cardinals graduated just one senior last winter, meaning these Cardinals have a wealth of experience in conference play.
“It was a great conference opener and I’m glad it was here (at home),” McMillan said.
Swenson proved to be a consistent presence in the scorebook. She scored nine points in the first half and added seven more in the second.
“I liked Laura’s determination. She’s very determined and she gives us creativity and sparks when we really need it,” Elliott said of Swenson.
Abbie Dreger added nine points for North.
Chippewa Falls travels to Hudson on Friday night, while North hosts River Falls in Big Rivers play that evening.