With one of the best teams in the state in their gym, the Baraboo girls basketball team came out with energy on Tuesday night.
But that energy only got the Thunderbirds so far, as Beaver Dam, the defending WIAA Division 2 state champions, came into Baraboo and handed the T-Birds a 100-46 loss in the Badger North Conference opener for both teams.
“It was a test,” Baraboo head coach Michael Behl said. “They’re certainly a team that wants to play really, really fast. We tried to play their pace, because that’s the pace we want to play. … It’s just a matter of us figuring out where we need to be in the press and forcing our will on teams. We did that for the early part of the game, and we had little pockets of it. We just couldn’t sustain it.”
Baraboo (0-2, 0-1 Badger North) went toe to toe with the conference newcomers early on, as the T-Birds found themselves within 11-10 after back-to-back baskets by Haley Hannagan.
“I knew they wouldn’t back down,” Behl said of how his team battled. “Our kids are tough. Then with our short bench and their long bench, it was just going to be a matter of time before we wore down and they forced their will on us. That’s really what happened.”
Beaver Dam (2-0, 1-0) turned up the defensive pressure and quickly took control, forcing three straight turnovers and eventually taking a 21-10 lead before forcing a Baraboo timeout with 9 minutes, 57 seconds remaining in the first half.
“That’s kind of what we do, keep that pace going the whole game,” Beaver Dam coach Tim Chase said. “I know Baraboo’s trying to do the same right now. We’ve probably just been at it a little longer with our kids doing that. The second part of the first half, we got our run going a little bit, got some steals and got some easy layups.”
The Golden Beavers kept their foot on the gas the rest of the half, scoring 39 points in the final 9:18 of the half to take a 60-26 lead into halftime. The second half was more of the same, as Beaver Dam reached the 100-point mark when Paige Hodgson scored with 2:27 remaining.
“They put 100 on the board, but it’s not something that I’m overly upset with right now,” Behl said. “What I’m somewhat disappointed in is that we didn’t get at least 60. ... That has to be a goal for us, to be above the 60s and finishing games in the 70s consistently. I thought we could have done that against this team.”
Baraboo junior Lexi Johnson attacked the basket and finished with a game-high 19 points, including two 3-pointers.
“I thought Lexi played really well,” Behl said. “She got to the rim and she found her teammates. She was a tough matchup for them.”
Hannagan added 13 points for the T-Birds, while Megan Horstman chipped in six points, Grace Stuckey added five points, and Abby Moon and Lindsay Johnson each scored two points.
Maryn Ferron led Beaver Dam with 17 points, while Afton Bartol added 12 points, Natalie Jens had 11 points and Aly Van Loo finished with 10 points. Beaver Dam caught fire from behind the 3-point line, finishing with 12 3-pointers compared to three for Baraboo.
The T-Birds, who open the season with five consecutive home games, will host a non-conference game against Marshall at 7 pm. on Saturday.