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Raiders unable to find the jolt needed to get them past Chargers


Medford girls head basketball coach Jessica Faude wasn’t sure if it was the looming holiday break, the giddiness of a 2-0 start or looking past a team it had beaten last year and over the summer.

Whatever the cause, Faude is hoping a 45-35 loss at Wittenberg-Birnamwood on Nov. 26 provides a lesson for the Raiders as they begin Great Northern Conference play.

The Raiders were flat at the start of Tuesday’s game and never led against a Chargers team that improved to 3-0 under head coach Nick Mechelke, a Gilman native. Emma Herb led the Chargers with 21 points and seven rebounds from her post position while Abi Fraaza had seven points, 18 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots for the victors.

Medford, meanwhile, scored just two points in the first nine minutes and found itself down 11-2 after a Megan Konkol 3-pointer. The Raiders trailed 14-4 after 11 minutes before Rynn Ruesch attacked the basket and got a three-point play. But Charger Kaylee Schram got an offensive rebound leading to a bucket by Konkol and Fraaza hit two free throws to give Wittenberg-Birnamwood its biggest lead of the half at 19-7.

Medford got 3s from Sierra Hanson and Marissa Fronk and a short baseline jumper from Laurissa Klapatauskas to get as close as 24-19 before settling for a 26-19 halftime deficit.

“My talk at halftime was just about energy,” Faude said. “We needed someone to give us a spark.”

That spark didn’t come early in the second half as the Chargers pulled out to a 34-20 lead before Fronk hit back-toback triples to give Medford a jolt and cut the deficit to 34-26 with just over nine minutes left. But the Chargers scored the next six points to go back up by 14 and ice their third win of the young season.

Fronk scored 15 points and added five rebounds and three steals. Katie Brehm scored eight points, including a late 3-pointer and had two rebounds. Hanson added five points, three steals and two assists. Ruesch scored five points and had a team-high six rebounds. Klapatauskas had a bucket, four rebounds and two assists. Brynn Rau had two rebounds and a steal and Lydia Persnetiner had three rebounds.

The Raiders never found their stroke from the field, making 13 of 45 shots overall (28.9%), including just eight of 25 from two-point range. The Chargers had a huge advantage from the free throw line, which Faude said was certainly a factor. They made 15 of 26 free throws, while Medford was just four of seven.

Wittenberg-Birnamwood had a 35-26 rebounding edge and a slight 20-18 edge in turnovers. But the Chargers had an 18-9 advantage in points off turnovers.

The Raiders look to get back on track Friday when they host Antigo at 7:15 p.m. in the conference opener. Medford hosts a solid Prentice team in non-conference play Tuesday before heading to Tomahawk on Dec. 12.