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EPC seniors say goodbye to home court with win

Thursday, Feb. 15 was an emotional night for the Elmwood/Plum City girls basketball team's seniors who said goodbye to the Plum City High School gymnasium with a win over Glenwood City.

The Wolves (9-13, 6-8) claimed a 59-40 win over the Hilltoppers (4-18, 3-11) in their last regular season game, a game that senior Ellie Funk referred to as being "bittersweet."

"This has been my home for four years," Funk said of the court she's played both volleyball and basketball on throughout high school.

Funk recorded four points, four rebounds, four assists, four steals and one block in her final game at Plum City High School.

The Wolves were led in scoring by Rowan Rupakus who finished with 20 points, 15 of which came from three-pointers. Rupakus and teammate Alyssa Peterson's outside shooting was huge for the Wolves in the first half with Lexi Diesing out with two early fouls. Rupakus and Peterson's threes, along with Hannah Feuker's hard-nosed defense, led the Wolves to a halftime lead of 37-19.

"Hannah does a great job whenever she's in there rebounding and just playing really good defense," EPC's head coach Shaughn Laehn said. "Rowan hit some shots in the first half; you can play tough defense all you want, but when somebody makes threes like Rowan did, it's tough on the defenders' end."

The Wolves controlled the entire second half, and never allowed for the Hilltoppers to get back within single digits. Their senior night win was a boost of confidence, especially after losing a tough four-point game to Eau Claire Immanuel on Monday, Feb. 12.

"I was really happy [tonight], because we didn't play well in Eau Claire on Monday night," Laehn said, "and I was really wondering how they were going to bounce back from that, because there really isn't a lot on the line when we already had a spot for the tournament."

Laehn said improved patience was the difference between his team's Monday night and Thursday night performances. Funk agreed.

"Tonight I think we walked in together shooting the ball well, and we didn't force too many passes," Funk said. "We kept our composure and we kept the lead."

The Wolves have been competing against talented Division 4 Dunn-St. Croix teams for the majority of the season, and are ready to face their Division 5 competition heading into the playoffs.

"Even in the games against Colfax, Elk Mound, Mondovi and Durand, [the Wolves] are gaining confidence," Laehn said, "and they know they're playing against better teams, so they're starting to realize the value in holding your head up high after you lose those games knowing that they played hard. At the end, they know [those games] have made them better."

Funk and her team will host their first playoff game on Tuesday, Feb. 20 against Royall (9-12), but the game is scheduled to take place at Elmwood High School.

Funk, Lexi Diesing, Tayler Whipple and Jessica Martin — four of EPC's five seniors — all attend Plum City High School. Hannah Feuker is the lone Elmwood senior.

"They became my family," Funk said of her four fellow seniors. "They're my sisters. I don't know where I'd be without them."

Funk has been the Wolves' main distributor all season and averages 3.4 assists per game. The senior facilitator said her team has come together as the season has progressed, and that her senior group will cherish the moments they have left as EPC Wolves. To do so, Funk said, "We're going to play every minute like it's our last."

Scoring for the Wolves: Rupakus 20, Peterson 15, Diesing 9, H. Feuker 6, Funk 4, Martin 3, Katie Feuker 2.