Kyle Gabel hasn’t been in the starting lineup of the Beaver Dam prep boys basketball game for more than a couple of games, but the senior forward’s work is rubbing off on his teammates.
There’s a different energy for the Golden Beavers when Gabel’s on the court, and Baraboo saw that on Friday night when Beaver Dam put the clamps on the Thunderbirds in 70-39 Badger North Conference victory in the South Gym of Beaver Dam High School.
“I think Kyle does a nice job,” Beaver Dam head coach Tim Ladron said. “He really does a good job on the defensive side. He’s giving us some easy buckets too. He’s done a really good job. ... He’s really been a nice spark for us.”
Sam Wilke led the Beavers with 18 points, while Dillon Livingston added 11 and three steals. Gabel only had six points, but his impact on the defensive end didn’t go unnoticed. Baraboo’s Justus Neuman was the only Thunderbird to reach double figures, totaling just 11 points. Connor Gregan and Caden Blum had eight points apiece for Baraboo while Mason Peterson had nine.
“He usually locks down their best offensive players on the other team,” Livingston said of Gabel.
Baraboo played some solid defense of its own for much of the first half, as the T-Birds trailed just 13-11 with 6:55 left before the break. But the Golden Beavers revved things up from there, finishing the half on a 25-6 run to take a 38-17-lead into the locker room.
“We got some stops on defense and they weren’t able to set up their press,” Baraboo head coach Darrin Berger said. “That definitely made a difference. Once they scored a few buckets and were able to set their press up, repeatedly it snowballed on us. We didn’t great job handling it.”
Defense is something Livingston said his team has put a focus on in practice.
“We’ve been preaching that we need lockdown defense and that will turn into offense,” he said.
The Golden Beavers didn’t let up in the second half, pushing their lead to 61-31 with 5:11 left in the game.
“Part of that too is not just the steals that lead to points, but you’re making them take some tough shots — shots that they don’t want to take,” Ladron said. “All those things add up. It’s leading out to easy points, and also giving us some confidence on the offensive end because we’re getting stops on the defensive stops.”
Even though Berger said his team can prepare for the type of defense Beaver Dam runs, there’s something the Golden Beavers have that they can’t practice against — height. Baraboo has only one player on its roster taller than 6-foot-3, while Beaver Dam has four players 6-5 or taller.
“It’s hard to simulate,” Berger said. “They were aggressive and got after us.”
Berger said the Thunderbirds didn’t just “scrap everything” and call it a night after falling way behind at the half.
“We played as team in the second half,” Berger said. “I thought that was good. We’ve had a couple moments this season where when things went wrong, we scrapped everything and played one on one, and we didn’t do that tonight.”
Justin Douma came off the bench and added eight points while Connor Cullen had five points, 11 rebounds and five assists for Beaver Dam.
“He’s been one of those guys that have stepped up and done a really nice job,” Ladron said of Cullen. “Whether he’s making shots or not, he’s always rebounding and defending well. He sees the floor really well. He’s played that type of role all year. He’s our leading rebounder by far.”
BEAVER DAM 70, BARABOO 39
Baraboo 17 22 — 39
Beaver Dam 38 32 — 70
Baraboo (39) — Mason Peterson 9, Caden Carpenter 2, Joe White Eagle 1, Connor Grogan 8, Justus Neuman 11, Caden Blum 8. TOTALS (FGS FTM-FTA PTS): 15 8-15 39.
Beaver Dam (70) — Broden Doschert 6, Cade Ferron 2, Kendric Jimenez 4, Sam Wilke 18, Dillon Livingston 11, Kyle Gabel 6, Connor Cullen 5, Nate Abel 2, Jordan Schwanke 2, Justin Douma 8, Marshal McGauley 2, Kyle Gebhardt 4. TOTALS (FGS FTM-FTA PTS): 28 6-7 70.
3-pointers: B 1 (Peterson 1), BD 8 (Boschert 2, Jimenez 1, Wilke 2, Livingston 1, Cullen 1, Douma 1). Total fouls: B 10, BD 16. Fouled out: B — none. BD — none.