An early hole was too deep for the Mauston girls basketball team to dig out of Tuesday night.

The Golden Eagles were held scoreless for opening four-plus minutes and without a field goal for the majority of the first half en route to a 72-44 loss to Wisconsin Dells in a South Central Conference game at Wisconsin Dells High School.

The Chiefs (18-1, 8-0 South Central) came out of the gates hitting on all cylinders, opening the game on a 15-0 run over the first four-plus minutes. After back-to-back buckets by senior Jenna Mace, junior Bethany Smith hit 1 of 2 free throws and junior Katelyn Meister added a layup for a 7-0 lead with 15 minutes, 30 seconds left in the first half.

Meister added another layup off a steal before Mace added a midrange jumper off a defensive stop to go up 11-0 at 14:30. The duo capped off the opening spurt with Meister put back and a Mace layup off another steal. Mauston (5-14, 1-7) didn’t do itself any favors during the opening stretch as the Golden Eagles struggled to hit shots against some tight Wisconsin Dells defense.

“We did well against their press; we knew we’d turn it over a little bit, but overall we did well on the press break,” Mauston coach Lori Hammer said. “We just couldn’t get some shots to fall and weren’t as aggressive going to the basket like we were supposed to. That first five minutes was a little rough.”

Senior Reghan Wohlrab eventually got the Golden Eagles (5-14, 1-7) on the board with a pair of free throws at 13:21 but it took some more time before Mauston got its first field goal. After Wisconsin Dells pushed its lead to 24-6 with a 3-point play by Meister, senior Kiandra Spaulding got the Golden Eagles first field goal with a layup with 8:03 left in the first half.

“That’s what dug the hole for us,” Hammer said on the teams’ near 10-minute stretch before its first field goal. “You take a half of a half and you don’t get any points and that’s just really hard to dig out of.”

The Chiefs ballooned their lead to as many as 24, as Mace scored the team’s final 14 points of the half and Wisconsin Dells took a 38-17 lead into the break. Just like the first half, the Chiefs came out of the intermission strong, taking a 46-21 lead with 14:30 left to play.

From there, the teams traded punches as the Golden Eagles tired to chip away at the Chiefs lead. A layup by Spaulding, who scored 12 points, and a 3-point play by senior Skyylar Brescia cut the deficit to 53-32 with 8:45 to go.

Another 3-point play by Brescia, who scored a team-high 21 points, cut the deficit to as low as 20 at 55-35 with 8:23 to go and forced a Chiefs timeout. Out of the breather, Mace canned a 3-pointer from the right wing and later a layup by senior Jamie Bates put the Chiefs up 61-36 with 6:05 remaining.

Wisconsin Dells continued to push its lead, extending the advantage to as many as 30 in the waning minutes, before the clock finally ran out. Along with its inability to finish, the Golden Eagles struggled to hang onto the ball, committing a number of turnovers.

“I think we had some errant passes, we were supposed to set some more screens and we didn’t execute our offense like we’re supposed to,” Hammer said. “We just threw the ball away too many times and that’s on us, not the pressure. We need to work on our passing and just know where we’re going with the ball.”

Mauston will look to clean things up over its final three games of the regular season, starting with an SCC clash at home against Adams-Friendship on Friday.

Follow Sean Davis on Twitter @SDavis_PDR.