Offensive inefficiency has been a thorn in the side of the Portage girls basketball team so far this season.
The Warriors struggled again with that Tuesday night en route to a 77-30 loss to Beaver Dam in a Badger North Conference game at Portage High School.
“Our season has been trying to figure out how we can put continuous points on the board,” Portage coach Jessica Howe said. “That showed up again and we’re still growing.”
Making matters worse for the Warriors was the Golden Beavers’ suffocating defensive pressure, as they forced 23 Portage turnovers, including 13 steals. Beaver Dam (4-1, 3-0 Badger North) darted out to an early 11-2 lead with 14 minutes, 30 seconds left in the first half following a basket by junior Paige Schumann and a 3-pointer by senior Kaylee Miller.
Portage (1-4, 1-2) looked to stop the bleeding as junior MacKenzie Roth answered with a bucket of her own, but Beaver Dam roared back. Sophomore Jada Donaldson and freshman Maty Wilke combined for eight straight points, capped by a layup off a steal by Donaldson, to take a 19-4 lead with 12:34 left.
“It’s just something we work on in practice to keep going, going, going,” Beaver Dam coach Tim Chase said. “We have pretty good depth on our team and we’re always trying to get a lot of kids chances to play, and it’s given us an opportunity to do a lot of those things which is nice.”
“Those traps are suffocating because they work hard, play good defense and are patient with it,” Howe added. “It exposes inexperience and lack of confidence, and the only way you get better is by being a part of it.”
The Beavers continued to frustrate the Warriors, closing the half on a 25-11 run capped by a Donaldson 3-pointer in the final seconds to take a 41-15 lead into the break. Portage had plenty of chances to cut into the deficit from the free throw line, but shot 5-of-15 from the charity stripe.
With a comfortable lead, Beaver Dam came out of the gates to start the second half hitting on all cylinders. The Beavers opened on a 22-0 run to take a 63-15 lead with 12:15 remaining.
“We were working on a few things to start the second half and we executed well,” Chase said. “We got the steals we needed to, ran our transition well and hit some shots.”
Eventually the Warriors got back on the board through a pair of free throws by sophomore McKena Yelk with 12:09 left. The points hardly slowed Beaver Dam, who added a 10-1 spurt to take a 73-18 lead and start a running clock with under 8 minutes to go.
The Warriors closed the game on a 12-4 run over the final 6 minutes, aided by three treys by Roth, to end things on a high note.
“Maybe we don’t know who we are offensively, but we know that our theme is we’re fighters,” Howe said. “We aren’t going to quit, we aren’t going to back down, we’re going to be gritty and we’re going to grow.”
Roth scored 12 points to lead Portage, which was held to just eight field goals and shot 11-for-26 from the free throw line. Wilke scored a game-high 17 points for the Golden Beavers, one of four players in double figures for the defending WIAA Division 2 state champions. Donaldson, senior Maryn Ferron and freshman Natalie Jens each added 11.
“All of them work hard, they’ve put in the time and effort, and they want to do well,” Chase said. “It’s a collective group and they’re happy for their teammates when things go well.”
BEAVER DAM 77, PORTAGE 30
Beaver Dam 41 36 — 77
Portage 15 15 — 30
BEAVER DAM — Burchardt 1 1-2 4, Donaldson 5 0-0 11, Ferron 3 4-5 11, Jens 4 1-2 11, Schumann 3 1-2 8, Hodgson 3 0-0 6, Miller 2 2-2 7, Storhoff 0 2-2 2, Wilke 8 0-0 17. Totals 29 11-15 77.
PORTAGE — Anderson 3 0-0 6, Roth 4 1-4 12, Wilson 0 3-9 3, Bisch 1 0-0 2, Kibby 0 1-2 1, Yelk 0 5-6 5, Brandner 0 1-5 1. Totals 8 11-26 30.
3-point goals — BD 8 (Burchardt 1, Donaldson 1, Ferron 1, Jens 2, Schumann 1, Miller 1, Wilke 1), POR 3 (Roth 3). Total fouls — BD 18, POR 11.