FULDA -- With a 0-4 start, and trailing by eight at halftime against Southwest Christian earlier this season, the Fulda Raiders looked like a distant image of last year's Class A state champions.
"We were 0-4 and we played probably the worst half of basketball against Southwest Christian, so it was almost 0-4 and a half," Fulda head coach Gregg Slaathaug said. "We really turned it around in the second half against Southwest Christian, and since then, we've been pretty consistent."
Fulda, which has won 10 of its last 11 games, continued on the winning track with another victory over Round Lake-Brewster Friday, 79-51, in a Red Rock Conference girls' basketball contest.
"The attitude was that we're not giving up," Slaathaug said. "When they were 0-4 they could have easily given up, or the term we use is given in. And they didn't give in."
With the victory, Fulda (8-2, 10-5) stays a half game back of Adrian in a very tight RRC race, and with eight straight conference victories, has climbed its way out of an 0-2 start in the conference.
"We got used to each other, and we got used to playing together," Slaathaug said. "We knew once we did, we'd be fine. The girls hung in there even though we were 0-4, and we're reaping the benefits."
But with leaders like Sam Raddle, Slaathaug knew it would just be a matter of time before Fulda came around.
"I think that with where we're at, they thought it was going to take a while," Slaathaug said. "They never thought it was going to take this long. Our leadership is so good, especially Sam. She wasn't going to let things fail and we're not going to let things fail."
Fulda started to reap the benefits early against RL-B as Raddle (19 points, five steals, and three assists) started the scoring for Fulda.
After a pair of free throws from Sarah Schmitz (12 points) tied the game, Lane Gehl (16 points) hit consecutive baskets and Mari Holinka (15 points) added a shot to push the lead to six points, 8-2.
Fulda continued to increase the lead, as Raddle finished off a 12-1 run with a trey as Fulda had an early 14-3 lead.
However, RL-B would not go quietly. Krystle Doeden (eight points, six rebounds) started a 6-0 run for RL-B to pull the visiting Raiders back within five points.
"We competed for a while, better than what we've done in the past, and I'm proud of the effort that the girls gave," RL-B head coach Neil Robinson said. "We use Fulda as a measuring stick with where we're at and how we're trying to improve."
A pair of treys from Gehl and Raddle started and finished another 12-2 run, giving the host Raiders a 26-11 lead.
"I was real happy with how we came out and played," Slaathaug said. "I thought we shot an outstanding percentage in the first half, and most importantly what we did against the zone."
Both teams traded points back and forth as Fulda had a 43-28 lead at the break.
Amy Paulzine (six points, nine rebounds) started the second half with an offensive rebound and put back to start the scoring and a free throw from Raddle pushed the lead to 18 points.
However, consecutive treys from RL-B's April Wallace (11 points) cut the lead, and baskets from Leah Riley, Doeden and Kasey McNab decreased the deficit to 14 points, 52-40.
"Our shooting was improved from the last few games, and we had better shot selection," Robinson said. "We just had a lot of mental errors that cost us a few points. If we can get rid of the mental errors, we're going to be just fine."
A basket from Gehl started an 18-2 run for Fulda that put the game away.
"We just kept playing our game and doing what we had to do," Slaathaug said. "Round Lake is very much improved and did a lot of good things and hung in there. But we want to stay fundamentally sound and do the little things that we do and pretty soon the games will take care of themselves."
Fulda had as much as a 30-point lead behind a basket from Holinka, 79-49, but McNab's basket was the final points as Fulda defeated RL-B, 79-51.
"The effort was a lot better tonight, but we're playing a great squad," Robinson said. "I expect nothing less from a Coach Slaathaug team. They come out and play hard every second of the game."
Fulda will travel to face Summit, S.D., the No. 2 ranked team in Class B, today at Dakota State before returning to conference games next week.
"We expected by the middle of January we'd be a tough team, by the middle of February we'd be a very tough team and rolling into March, where we're planning on playing in the middle of March again," Slaathaug said. "This has been so much fun because I knew that it would be fun at the start of the year, but I never knew it would be this much fun. This group has just been outstanding."
Fulda will travel to Ellsworth Tuesday, before returning home to host Edgerton, a team that defeated Fulda early in the season, Friday.
RL-B will travel to Westbrook-Walnut Grove Tuesday.
RL-B 28 23 -- 51
Fulda 43 36 -- 79
RL-B (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Riley 0-3-0-6, Moshier 0-1-0-2, Doeden 0-2-4-8, Meyer 0-2-0-4, S. Schmitz 0-4-4-12, Wallace 3-1-0-11, K. Schmitz 0-1-0-2, Cross 0-1-0-2, McNab 0-2-0-4. Totals 3-17-8-51.
Fulda (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): C. Hulstein 1-0-0-3, Raddle 3-3-4-19, Kuehne 0-2-2-6, B. Hulstein 0-2-0-4, Holinka 0-6-3-15, Gehl 1-4-5-16, Goedtke 1-3-0-9, Kramer 0-0-1-1, Paulzine 0-3-0-6. Totals 6-23-15-79.