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Girls' basketball: Hilltoppers withstand Wolves' pressure

Down by seven with six seconds left to go in their Tuesday night game, there was little to no chance the Elmwood/Plum City Wolves would be able to mount their comeback against the Glenwood City Hilltoppers.

Without Reggie Miller listed on their roster, the Wolves (1-10, 0-6) would have to settle for a deflection from Katie Feuker before their guests ran out the clock and ultimately claimed a 55-48 Dunn-St. Croix Conference win.

The Wolves added another loss to their one-win record, but once again, they fought until the final buzzer sounded.

The Wolves faced a 29-14 halftime deficit, which widened to 36-20 before the Wolves tested their guests with full-court pressure and forced several backcourt turnovers. EPC's Kendra Kern and Katie Feuker picked the pockets of Glenwood City's entire roster and were detrimental in their team's late comeback. Kern led all scorers with 20 points, while Feuker added 10, respectively.

But while the Wolves' full-court press was nearly infallible, their half-court defense still lagged when it came to crashing the glass. The Wolves stuck to a zone defense for the majority of the game and struggled to box out their opponents, giving up several second-chance shots. Glenwood City's Makiah Schutz led the Hilltoppers with 19 points and gave her team several second-chance opportunities by crashing the offensive boards.

EPC also struggled to defend the Hilltoppers' entry passes to the high post, which allowed their guests to run an effective high-low offense with Schutz leading the way with 11 first-half points.

But even when things looked grim for their team, Feuker and Kern continued to lead the charge by playing by example and refusing to throw in the towel.

When asked what motivates her to continue to fight when facing large deficits, Feuker's answer was simple and came without hesitation: "I love the game.

"I guess, I don't know. I love to play, and there's nothing really more than that."

Feuker's words are proven in the way she continues to lay it all on the line no matter the deficit her team faces.

"People will tell you to be a leader, and I think leading by example is the best way to do that," Feuker said. "You can't tell someone to do something; they have to make the personal choice. It's just a personal choice that I make to work hard."

She's also pragmatic when it comes to discussing the frustrations that have come with her team's 1-10 season.

"There are plenty of frustrating days," she said, "but to be able to come and play a game, you learn to look at the small positives. Maybe it wasn't a win in the books, but you have to look at the little wins that maybe don't go in the books."

Feuker considered her team's Tuesday night comeback a "little win", but said there ultimately shouldn't be a need for a comeback.

"There shouldn't be that dead spot in the middle of the game," Feuker said. "You want everybody to be able to keep pushing through and be scoring consistently, but it doesn't always work that way. So, going forward we just want to be able to not have that dead spot and just play strong throughout the game."

The Wolves will travel to Mondovi on Friday, Jan. 11, for another chance at capturing their first conference win of the season.

Scoring for the Wolves: Kern 20; Feuker 10; Alexia Waltz, Vanessa Seipel 6; Rowan Rupakus 4; Maggie Glaus 2.