Paige Pawlak

Badger Lightning's Paige Pawlak takes the initial shot that led to her second-period goal on Tuesday, Jan. 31 against Viroqua.

Brock Fritz/News Republic

A couple of minutes made the difference for the Badger Lightning on Tuesday night.

The host Lightning (3-14, 2-5 Badger) went toe-to-toe with Viroqua (9-6, 3-4) for two and a half periods before the Blackhawks got their attack going and handed the Lightning a 4-2 Badger Conference loss.

But Badger Lightning head coach Rick Capener liked what he saw from his team, which has played five solid games in a row.

“We’re proud of them, they played really well tonight,” Capener said. “They’re building character, they’re getting stronger, and you could see that tonight. … We’ve been steadily building some momentum and working towards correcting things. Whether the win-loss column shows it or not doesn’t matter, we’re seeing it.”

Viroqua, which has won six straight games, had the bulk of the possession early on Tuesday, outshooting the Lightning 18-4 in the first period. However, Gabby Christensen and the Lightning defense held strong until Viroqua’s Maia Barendregt beat a few defenders and slid the puck past Christensen to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead 9:17 into the first period. That score held after a relatively clean first period in which the Lightning began to settle in.

“We said if we cut down their shots, we’d increase ours, and we did that in the second period,” Capener said.

The Lightning got off 13 shots on goal in the second period, drawing even when one of them found its mark. Paige Pawlak created the scoring opportunity with an attack from the left wing. Her shot was saved, but rebounded in front of the net and Pawlak eventually buried it to tie the score at 1-1 just 4:11 into the second period.

The defenses stood tall the rest of the second, as both teams were able to kill off power plays in the final five minutes of the period.

“We won the period,” Capener said of outscoring Viroqua 1-0 in the second. “So to be down and come back to tie, especially with the season we’re having, that just shows the heart that they have.”

The Lightning had to come back twice, as Viroqua struck first in the third period, taking a 2-1 lead when Perla Grenier scored 4:12 into the third. But the Lightning didn’t wilt, answering right back when Pawlak and Baylee Babcock assisted Lizzie Patton for a goal at the 5:57 mark.

However, Viroqua quickly took a 3-2 lead when Barendregt scored her second goal of the night with 8:57 remaining, then tacked on an insurance goal with 6:33 to play.

The Lightning had chances down the stretch, even going on a power play in the closing minutes, but couldn’t cash in as they suffered their third straight loss.

“You could tell they were tired,” Capener said. “We played Friday, overnight trip, we didn’t end up playing Saturday, but we played Monday, we played Tuesday. And we’ve got two more games this week, our only practice this week is tomorrow."

The Lightning will play their fourth game in seven days when they host Sun Prairie on Thursday in Reedsburg.

Girls Basketball

Emily Kieck scored a game-high 28 points to lead Baraboo to a 59-52 Badger North Conference win at DeForest on Tuesday.

It was the third straight win for the T-Birds (9-8, 4-5 Badger North), who needed a second-half comeback to top the Norskies (9-8, 5-3).

DeForest, which is in second place in the Badger North, jumped out to a 23-17 halftime lead on Tuesday. But Kieck got the T-Birds going in the second, scoring 21 of her 28 points to help Baraboo pull away.

Josie Schaefer also had a big second half for the T-Birds, scoring 13 of her 17 points.

The T-Birds earned a season sweep of the Norskies, also notching a 57-50 home win over DeForest on Dec. 2.

Baraboo will host a Badger North Conference game against Mount Horeb on Friday.

Baraboo will host a Badger North Conference game against Mount Horeb on Friday.

Follow Brock Fritz on Twitter @BrockFritz

Capital Newspapers Regional Sports Reporter