BARABOO — The Baraboo prep boys basketball team had no answer for Eli Considine and Craig Steele on Friday night.
The Portage duo combined for 51 points to lead the Warriors to a 67-57 Badger North Conference win.
“We didn’t expect anything different tonight,” Portage head coach Ron Olson said. “Playing Baraboo is always a battle. I’m just super, super proud of our entire team tonight. We had to rely on everybody to step up in some way.”
Considine carried the torch in the first half, scoring 19 of his 25 points to stake Portage (2-3, 2-0 Badger North) to a 31-23 halftime lead.
The decisive stretch came midway through the half. Baraboo’s Connor Grogan and Joe White Eagle scored on consecutive possessions to bring the Thunderbirds (0-4, 0-2) within 14-13 and force a Portage timeout with 8 minutes, 37 seconds remaining in the first half.
Considine took over from there, getting himself going with a pair of mid-range jumpers on consecutive possessions. The junior added back-to-back 3-pointers — two of his five in the first half — scoring on four straight possessions to go on a personal 10-0 run as the Warriors opened up a 24-13 lead and forced a Baraboo timeout with 5:48 to play in the half.
“That’s one of those nights where you just step back and you smile,” Olson said. “He was in a zone and we needed him. Boy, was he big for us.”
Brett Walker hit a 3-pointer of his own coming out of the timeout. Baraboo’s Mason Peterson finally put a halt to the run with a free throw with 4:47 remaining, leaving the Thunderbirds with a 27-14 deficit.
Baraboo eventually climbed within 31-23 by halftime to set up an entertaining second half.
Justus Neuman rallied Baraboo early, converting a three-point play and hitting a pair of 3-pointers as the Thunderbirds pulled within 39-36 with 11:17 to play.
“When we did build the lead, we knew they weren’t going away,” Olson said. “I credit the Baraboo kids; they played a hard game and they really hung in there.”
But the second half belonged to Steele, who scored 23 of his game-high 26 points after halftime.
“It was sort of a quiet 26,” Olson said. “He was as big for us in the second half as Eli was in the first.”
Steele converted a three-point play to give the Warriors a 50-40 lead with 5:11 remaining. Baraboo didn’t go away, climbing within 57-53 when Neuman recorded a steal and assisted Peterson for a layup with 1:12 remaining.
However, Portage had the answer again, responding with two fast-break layups to open up a 61-55 lead and eventually pull away for its fourth straight win over Baraboo.
“We just tried to keep our composure,” Olson said. “There have been times when we’ve lost that and tonight was about keeping that composure.”
Walker added nine points for the Warriors, whose 67 points was a season high.
“We’re just trying to take a step forward each game,” Olson said. “We had three great practices here this week and the kids were well prepared. Their minds were in the right spot and they were ready to play tonight.”
Baraboo attacked throughout, shooting 22-of-33 from the free throw line and scoring a season-high 57 points after entering the night averaging 45.3 points per game.
Grogan had a big night for Baraboo, scoring a team-high 22 points while going 12-of-13 from the charity stripe. Peterson, who entered the night averaging a team-leading 18.7 points per game, added 16 and Neuman chipped in 13.
The Warriors will continue Badger North Conference play when they host Reedsburg on Tuesday.
PORTAGE 67, BARABOO 57
Portage 31 36 — 67
Baraboo 23 34 — 57
PORTAGE — Anderson 0 1-2 1, Garrigan 1 0-0 2, Isakson 1 0-1 2, Walker 3 1-3 9, Paul 1 0-0 2, Considine 8 4-4 25, Steele 9 7-8 26. Totals 23 13-18 67.
BARABOO — M. Peterson 6 4-11 16, White Eagle 1 0-0 2, Gehin 0 4-6 4, Grogan 5 12-13 22, Neuman 4 2-3 13. Totals 16 22-33 57.
3-point goals — P 8 (Considine 5, Walker 2, Steele 1), B 3 (Neuman 3). Total fouls — P 24, B 19.