Coach Steve Board couldn't have asked for better competition over the Christmas break.
The Richland Center girls basketball coach couldn't have gotten much better results, either, as the Hornets took the title of the Baraboo Winter Tournament on Wednesday with a 58-51 win over the host Thunderbirds.
"We're always looking for the best competition during these holiday tournaments and we really took advantage of a great situation," Board said. "We treat these tournament games like we're preparing for the postseason, and if we can win while learning a few things it's even better."
With tourney wins over the Badger North's Reedsburg Beavers and Thunderbirds - both Division 2 teams -the Hornets (D-3) stayed perfect on the season at 7-0 (1-0, Southwest Wisconsin Conference).
BHS coach Dave Crane, whose team falls to 4-2 (1-0 Badger North) and went 1-1 at its home tournament, acknowledged there were positives and negatives to take away from the setback."
"There's no such things as moral victories, but if you can learn something from these games in December and win something in March because of it, it's a quality loss," he said. "Richland Center is a solid opponent and this game really pointed out our strengths and some of our deficiencies."
Richland Center outscored Baraboo 12-3 in the final five minutes, and never trailed after taking the lead, 51-50, on Emily Anderson's free throw with just over three minutes to play.
BHS's Megan Digmann converted one from the stripe to tie the game with 2:49 remaining, but the Hornets went 7-for-8 from the stripe down the stretch, including a steal and two free throws from Taylor Wilson in the final minute to secure the win.
The Hornets shot an eye-popping 26-of-27 from the free-throw line.
BHS's Sam Terry led the squad with 20 points. Emily Brinker followed up with 17 points, including a pair of spot-up 3-pointers midway through the second half.
"Emily Brinker has really become that third scorer for us," Crane said. "She has that ability and it's critical for her to get opportunities. She's becoming an important part of our offense."
BHS returns to action on Jan. 4th hosting Beaver Dam, before welcoming conference foe DeForest on Jan. 7th and traveling to Waunakee on Jan. 8th.
RICHLAND CENTER 58, BARABOO 51
Richland Center 16 13 11 18 - 58
Baraboo 10 18 15 11 - 51
Baraboo: Meghan Kreilkamp 1 4-4 5, Emily Brinker 6 2-4 17, Megan Digmann 1 1-4 3, Emily O'Rourke 3 0-2 6, Sam Terry 4 12-14 20. 3-pointers: Brinker 3. TOTALS: 15 18-28 51. Richland Center: Emily Anderson 2 3-3 7, Kelsey Collins 1 6-6 9, Mara Anderson 1 3-4 6, Taylor Wilson 2 8-8 14, Alyssa Krajco 6 4-4 16, Kelly Lynch 2 2-2 6. 3-pointers: Wilson 2, M. Anderson, Collins. TOTALS: 14 26-27 58.
Tourney score: Reedsburg 64, Milwaukee SOL 43.