The struggles continued for the Baraboo girls basketball team on Thursday night.

The Thunderbirds fell into an early 18-1 deficit and never recovered, suffering an 80-49 home loss to unbeaten Waunakee in a Badger North Conference game.

“It was one of those nights that our kids need to learn from, and we’ll certainly get better as a result,” Baraboo head coach Michael Behl said. “It’s just frustrating for them, because no one wants to get beat like this.”

Waunakee (4-0, 2-0 Badger North) started fast, attacking Baraboo’s zone defense and opening up an 18-1 lead when back-to-back 3-pointers caused Baraboo (0-5, 0-2) to call a timeout with 14 minutes, 27 seconds remaining in the first half.

“We just can’t keep digging ourselves such big holes early in the ballgame,” Behl said. “It has been consistent throughout the season and certainly needs to stop.”

Baraboo found some footing coming out of the timeout, as Lexi Johnson and Lia Kieck each hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 18-7. Johnson added a layup to bring Baraboo within 18-9, but that was as close as the T-Birds would get.

“I think we played okay in the middle part of the game,” Behl said. “We got ourselves down 18-1 and I think our kids came to life after that, so I was proud of that.”

The Warriors closed the half on a 27-14 run to take a 45-23 lead into the locker room.

Baraboo never threatened in the second half, as the Waunakee defense held firm to help the Warriors win their first road game of the season.

The T-Birds, who entered the day scoring 50.8 points per game and giving up 79.3 points per game, have struggled to get rolling this season. Baraboo threw a few different looks at Waunakee on Thursday, but the Warriors were still able to score a season-high 80 points. Waunakee’s previous season high came during Tuesday’s 64-62 home win over Madison Memorial.

“We tried to take (CiCi) Rindy away in the first half, and we did that, so we were successful in that sense, unfortunately we left some shooters open in the corners,” Behl said. “That was really the difference in the first half. In the second half, we got to the shooters better, but Rindy went off. It was just a matter of, you take one thing away and you give up a little bit of the other.”

Rindy finished with 16 points for the Warriors, while Caitlyn Kesilewski scored a game-high 18 points.

Haley Hannagan paced Baraboo with 15 points as Kieck chipped in 13 points, Abby Moon added nine points, Lexi Johnson had seven points and Megan Horstman had five points.

Thursday night was Waunakee’s fifth straight win over Baraboo. The previous three matchups were all decided by four points or fewer. The teams will meet again when Baraboo visits Waunakee on Jan. 26.

“They’re one of the better teams on our side of the conference, but they’re certainly not 30 points better than us,” Behl said. “Next time we face them we’ll certainly give them a better test.”

The T-Birds will continue Badger North play when they visit Reedsburg on Tuesday. The Reedsburg matchup will be Baraboo’s first road game after opening the season with five straight home games.

GIRLS HOCKEY

The Badger Lightning faced one of its toughest opponents Thursday night at the Poppy Waterman Ice Arena in Lake Delton.

It was a 9-0 Rock County win, but the Lightning are more focused on moving in the right direction and they felt like they did so on Thursday night.

“They work hard in practice and in games,” Badger Lightning head coach Sara Durst said. “I couldn’t be more pleased. They were skating hard and they never give up. They are working as a team.”

The visitors rolled to a 4-0 first period lead and added four more in the second, then one in the final minute of the contest to claim the 9-0 win.

First-year Badger Lightning goalie Natalie Buss, one of five sophomores on the 11-player roster, made 32 saves on the night.

On ‘Stick it to Cancer’ Night, the team was inspired by Russell Dillin, a Mauston native who is battling the disease who was on hand for a ceremonial faceoff.

The Lightning will get another tough test Friday as they visit Beaver Dam to face the Warbirds, a co-operative effort between Beaver Dam and Fond du Lac programs.

The Lighting’s next home game will be a Badger Conference matchup against the Stoughton Icebergs on Dec. 12 at Poppy Waterman.

Follow Brock Fritz on Twitter @BrockFritz

Capital Newspapers Regional Sports Reporter