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Neillsville sweeps Loyal girls

It was unclear as of last week who was the cream of the crop in Eastern Cloverbelt Conference girls basketball. It’s not anymore. With two dominant wins over previously unbeaten Loyal in the past week, Neillsville once again asserted itself as the top dog in the ECC race. The Warriors defeated Loyal 49-21 in Neillsville on Jan. 5, then came to Loyal Monday night and left town with a 71-29 win. The two teams were tied at 6-0 last week, but the Warriors now have control of the ECC standings, with Colby and Marshfield Columbus still in the mix for a top finish.

In the first game between Loyal and Neillsville, the Greyhounds allowed a 10-0 first-half Warrior run and fell behind 20-9. Loyal got the deficit back down to eight points at the half, but then scored a total of four points in the 18-minute second half. Loyal was plagued by ice-cold shooting on the night, as it hit just nine of 36 field-goal attempts. Neillsville shot 49 percent from the floor and drained five 3-pointers. Loyal got only one freethrow attempt in the entire game. Senior guard Savanna Schley scored 13 of Loyal’s 21 points.

In the rematch, Schley hit an early 3-pointer and then converted a traditional 3-point play to give Loyal a 6-2 lead. Neillsville then reeled off the next eight points as part of a 27-5 run that covered nine minutes of the first half. The Warriors had built a 38-18 lead by halftime.

Loyal once again could not buy a bucket against Neillsville’s stingy defense and shot just 23 percent (8-35) from the floor. The Greyhounds were 5-22 on 3-pointers and a combined 8-39 from behind the arc for the two games. Loyal was also cold from the free-throw line, hitting six of 17 tries. Neillsville was 10-15 from the stripe.

Schley’s 14 points led Loyal in the second game and Katlyn Lindner scored eight points.