The Sauk Prairie girls basketball team came out of the gates fast in Baraboo on Friday.
The Eagles jumped out to an early 14-1 lead and claimed a 64-52 win over the host Thunderbirds in a Badger North Conference game at Baraboo High School.
“We’ve been looking to start fast, and we finally got the fast start that we wanted,” Sauk Prairie head coach Amber Fiene said after the win.
Sauk Prairie (5-5, 2-3 Badger North) got it started with a runner from Camryn Ballweg, then Hannah Schneider scored five quick points as the Eagles opened up a 7-1 lead in the opening minutes.
Ella Schad’s 3-pointer to give Sauk Prairie a 14-1 lead with 12 minutes to play in the first half.
Baraboo (1-7, 1-4) made several small runs, but the T-Birds never cut the deficit to less than nine points the rest of the game.
Sauk Prairie led by as many as 14 points on several occasions in the first half and eventually took a 32-18 lead into halftime after Riley Breunig scored with 1 second remaining.
The second half started the same way as the first, as Sauk Prairie opened up a 42-21 lead after back-to-back fast-break layups from Breunig, forcing a Baraboo timeout with 13:46 to play.
“The slow start in the first half and the slow start in the second half, we just couldn’t overcome,” Baraboo head coach Michael Behl said. “It’s just a matter of our kids coming out and wanting it, understanding what it means to compete at this level. We’re pretty inconsistent in that way. Some of it’s our youth, for sure, and some of it is just inexperience. But the more we play and the more we compete at this level and with this intensity, it’s just a matter of time. We’ll get there.”
Baraboo hit six second-half 3-pointers to make it interesting, pulling within 54-44 with under 3 minutes remaining.
“I told them that Baraboo can hit from outside,” Fiene said. “They weren’t hitting in the first half and in the second half, they started to fall. That kind of made the difference and sucked the wind out of us.”
But the Eagles regained control and hung on down the stretch to put an end to their two-game losing streak and improve to .500 on the season.
“I’m happy with the progress we’ve been making,” Fiene said. “I think the second time around in conference, there’s a couple (teams) we can do a better job competing with, but right now I’m happy with what the girls are doing. It’s a building process and slowly but surely we’re going to get to where we want to be.”
Breunig had a big game for Sauk Prairie, scoring 14 of her game-high 20 points in the second half. Schneider added 12 points for the Eagles, while Naomi Breunig scored nine points and Taylor Breininger finished with seven points.
“When we stuck to the game plan, we were getting everything that we hoped for offensively,” Fiene said. “It was nice having some inside action tonight against their zone. That forced them to decide who they were going to guard, and we’re always going to shoot from the outside if we’re open. They had to honor our shot on the outside, which gave us one-on-one on the inside most of the time.”
Baraboo’s Lexi Johnson was held to just two free throws in the first half before hitting three second-half 3-pointers and finishing with a team-high 17 points.
“She’s tough,” Behl said of Johnson. “She figured some things out. She found some opportunities for herself and found some opportunities for her teammates.”
Haley Hannagan and Abby Moon chipped in 11 points and nine points for the T-Birds.
Both teams will be off until Thursday, when Baraboo visits Portage and Sauk Prairie hosts DeForest.
SAUK PRAIRIE 64, BARABOO 52
Sauk Prairie 32 32 — 64
Baraboo 18 34 — 52
SAUK PRAIRIE — C. Ballweg 2 0-0 4, Mack 1 1-2 3, N. Breunig 3 2-2 9, Breininger 1 4-4 7, R. Breunig 8 3-4 20, O. Breunig 2 0-0 5, Schad 1 0-0 3, K. Breunig 1 0-0 2, Schneider 4 4-7 12. Totals 23 14-19 64.
BARABOO — C. Moon 1 0-0 3, A. Moon 3 2-2 9, Hannagan 3 5-7 11, Kieck 0 4-10 4, Stuckey 2 0-0 5, Le. Johnson 6 2-4 17, Li. Johnson 3-4 3. Totals 15 18-26 52.
3-point goals — SP 5 (N. Breunig 1, Breininger 1, R. Breunig 1, O. Breunig 1, Schad 1), B 6 (Le. Johnson 3, C. Moon 1, A. Moon 1, Stuckey 1). Total fouls — SP 19, B 16.