BARABOO - The race to the top of the Badger North Conference tightened up on Saturday.
Waunakee's Samantha Murray poured in 13 points and knocked down a pair of free throws with 29.8 seconds left to put the Warriors out front 56-52, and led her team to a thrilling 56-53 victory over Baraboo in conference action on Saturday.
The loss ruined Baraboo's dreams of an unbeaten conference season. The Thunderbirds defeated the Warriors 74-73 in overtime in the teams' previous meeting on Jan. 8 at Waunakee.
Samantha Terry led Baraboo (10-4, 7-1 Badger North) with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
"It came down to if they win, they're up three games with four to play," Waunakee (7-7, 5-2) coach Brad Lussier said. "But now we're one game back (in the loss column) and we keep the pressure on them."
The Warriors served notice that they were out for revenge, jumping out to a 32-26 lead at halftime behind seven points from Brianna Johnson and six each from Chelsea Hagen and Elizabeth Evans.
Waunakee opened a 39-28 lead on Murray's three-point play with 4:50 left in the third quarter.
But Baraboo picked up its defense and forced the Warriors into five turnovers to pull within 41-36 with 1:54 left in period.
"We battled back but we missed too many free throws especially when you go to the line 40 times in your home gym," Baraboo coach Dave Crane said after the Thunderbirds shot 50 percent from the line (20-for-40). "You expect to make more than we made."
The Thunderbirds eventually pulled into 45-45 tie on Megan Digmann's three-point play with 4:15 left in game, before Waunakee took a 50-47 lead on Kelly Preston layup and Johnson's 3-pointer with 3:18 left.
Terry made two free throws and a layup to pull Baraboo within 52-51 with 2:11 left, but Murray scored the Warriors' last four points to keep the home team at bay.
BHS senior starting forward, Emily O'Rourke, was sidelined for a third consecutive game due to a knee injury.
The Thunderbirds return to action on Tuesday hosting Mauston in non-conference play.
WAUNAKEE 56, BARABOO 53
Waunakee 15 17 11 13 -56
Baraboo 16 10 13 14 - 53
Baraboo: Meghan Kreilkamp 3 0-1 7, Anna Schmelzer 2 2-5 6, Emily Brinker 1 3-4 5, Megan Digmann 3 4-10 10, Megan McVenes 2 1-8 5, Sam Terry 5 10-12 20. 3-pointers: Kreilkamp. TOTALS: 16 20-40 53. Waunakee: Brianna Johnson 4 3-7 12, Chelsea Hagen 3 0-3 6, Alexa Statz 1 2-2 4, Sam Murray 3 7-7 13, Jaci Vanden Brook 1 0-0 2, Lindsay Jones 2 1-2 5, Elizabeth Evans 4 0-0 8, Kelly Preston 3 0-0 6. 3-pointers: Johnson. TOTALS: 21 13-21 56.