BARABOO — In a low scoring, back-and-forth conference battle, things can change at a moment’s notice.
That abrupt change during Monday’s game between Portage and Baraboo came at the start of the second half. After Portage took a 22-20 lead heading into halftime, the Warriors went on a 14-0 run early in the second half on their way to a 61-43 Portage victory in a Badger North Conference game at Baraboo High School.
“Our defense, our intensity that we’ve been working on, it was there,” Portage coach Jessica Howe said. “And we really capitalized on some turnovers and some quick buckets.”
The first several minutes of the game saw sloppy play from both sides. Portage’s Mackenzie Roth put in a quick bucket off the tipoff, before a drive from Baraboo’s Lexi Johnson and a 3-pointer from Abby Moon gave Baraboo a 5-2 lead. Turnovers and missed shots on both ends of the floor made for a low scoring stretch, before a 3-pointer from McKena Yelk and a jumper off the glass from Erin Kibby gave Portage (8-13 overall, 5-8 Badger North) the lead.
A couple of drives from Lia Kieck put Baraboo (3-18, 2-11) back on top, while Lexi Johnson hit one from the arc to make it 13-7. Portage’s Tess Wilson was a physical force under the rim throughout the night, grabbing a couple of offensive rebounds and turning those into buckets.
Moon hit another 3-pointer to keep Baraboo’s offense going, but more lead changes took place after a layup from Roth while a jumper from Morgan Bisch put Portage up 20-17.
A defensive stop from Moon which led to two free throws from Kieck made it 20-19, before a free throw from Lindsay Johnson knotted the score. Portage’s Brianna Brandner however was fouled with seconds remaining and hit both from the line to give the Warriors a 22-20 lead at halftime.
“We were okay, we got some good shots and generally speaking we defended well,” Baraboo coach Michael Behl said of the first half. “We covered up their shooters fairly well in the first half.”
Portage began its 14-0 run to start the second half with consecutive 3-pointers from Yelk and Kibby. The Warriors continued to hit from the arc from there, with Bisch hitting back-to-back threes of her own moments later to give Portage a 36-20 advantage.
“It was always there, our shots just weren’t hitting for us in the first half,” Howe said. “But we don’t quit. We know that we can shoot, we have people we believe in that can put the ball in the hoop and we have rebounders too that showed up.”
On the other end, the Thunderbirds rushed their shot opportunities, and a couple of turnovers didn’t help their case. Freshman Dasia Banks broke the scoring drought with a pair of free throws, and a 3-pointer from Hannagan made it 50-40. Baraboo continued to trail by about 10 points for the next few minutes, but simply couldn’t match the physical presence brought by the Warriors. A three-point play from Yelk along with late buckets from Anika Shortreed and Molly Callen sealed the deal.
Portage will travel to Sauk Prairie on Friday to wrap up the regular season, before hosting the same Sauk Prairie team four days later for a WIAA Division 2 regional quarterfinal game.
PORTAGE 61, BARABOO 43
Portage 22 39 — 61
Baraboo 20 23 — 43
PORTAGE — Anderson 1 0-0 2, Roth 5 2-2 13, Wilson 2 1-3 5, Bisch 4 0-0 11, Kibby 1 1-2 3, Belleau 0, Shortreed 2 0-0 4, Yelk 7 1-1 18, Brandner 0 3-4 3, Callen 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 8-15 61.
BARABOO — Kieck 2 2-2 6, Hannagan 3 2-3 10, Stuckey 0 1-2 1, A. Johnson 3 3-5 10, Moon 2 1-2 7, Banks 3 2-3 8, Johnson 0 1-2 1. Totals 13 12-19 43.
3-point goals — POR 7 (Roth 1, Bisch 3, Yelk 3), BAR 4 (Hannagan 2, Moon 2). Total fouls — POR 20, BAR 18. Fouled out — Kieck.