Trailing 5-2 with just three ends to go against a team as good as Pardeeville was a less-than-enviable spot for the Portage girls curling team to be in, but the Warriors somehow managed to make it work.

Portage scored two in the sixth end, and then two more in the eighth end to pull even with the Bulldogs and force an extra end, where it was able to steal a point to pick up a 7-6 victory in a Southern Conference match at the Portage Curling Club on Tuesday evening.

Pardeeville built a comfortable cushion with a big three points in the fifth end. When Pardeeville skip DaKotah Crotty threw the final stone of the end, Portage was sitting with the shot rock, but the Bulldogs had three other stones in the house. Crotty’s shot was on target, taking out Portage’s stone. It also took out one of Pardeeville’s stones in the house, but stuck to give Pardeeville three huge points and a 5-2 lead.

Portage needed and got a huge response in the sixth end. The Warriors were in position to score one, but skip Sam Jones was able to get her team a pair instead, as she bumped a second Portage stone into the house with her final shot to make it 5-4.

Pardeeville, which also had McKenna Cook (third), Ashton Osterhaus (second) and Kayla Guenther (lead) playing on Tuesday, went back in front by two in the seventh end, but needed a fantastic final shot to make it happen. Portage was in position to steal two points, but Crotty found enough of an opening between a pair of guards and drew to the button to give her team a point and a 6-4 lead heading to the eighth end.

The Warriors, who had Ellie Vorpahl (third), Halie Maier (second) and Anna Tamboli (lead) playing along with Jones, were able to stay alive with two points in the eighth. On the final throw of the eighth end, Jones took out Pardeeville’s shot rock, and had her rock roll toward the center of the house to give the Warriors a pair.

Portage had not stolen a point in any of the previous ends, but was able to get the steal it needed in the ninth. Portage was sitting with the best rock, which was well guarded, when Crotty threw the match’s final stone. She attempted to bump one of Pardeeville guards into the center of the house, but was light on the shot, allowing Portage to steal a point for the 7-6 victory.

“After the sixth end, the momentum switched, and you could see our kids gaining confidence,” Portage coach Jim Shlimovitz said.

Portage took a 1-0 lead with a point in the first end, but Pardeeville answered with a point in the second and then stole a point in the third to take a 2-1 lead.

Portage’s success down the stretch could have been the result of adjusting to the changing ice conditions. While the varsity match was playing its final few ends on sheet No. 2, the junior varsity matches on sheets No. 1 and 3 finished up. Shlimovitz said the loss of body heat from the junior varsity curlers made the ice run straighter, something his curlers were expecting.

“When we lose some sheets, these kids know that it will run straighter. They understood it,” Shlimovitz said. “We go over the ice and what the ice is like a lot, so we can figure that out.”

Pardeeville coach Jim Housner said his team shouldn’t be too concerned with Tuesday’s loss, pointing out that if one hard-luck shot went their way, it very easily could have been the Bulldogs leaving with the victory. Pardeeville also already had a victory over Portage under its belt from a non-conference match earlier this season.

Both teams will now prepare to compete in the 66th Annual Tietge Bonspiel, which will take place in Wausau on Friday and Saturday. The Tietge Bonspiel is considered the largest and oldest high school bonspiel in the country, and both the Portage and Pardeeville girls figure to be among the favorites to return with the title.

Portage boys win in Pardeeville

The Portage boys curling team bolted out to an 8-0 lead through the first three ends and held on down the stretch for an 11-8 victory over Pardeeville in a Southern Conference match at the Pardeeville Curling Club on Tuesday evening.

The Portage rink, which was skipped by Dalton Brauner, and also included Tyler Wood (third), Cade Harkner (second) and Seth Reilly (lead), used the hammer to score two in the opening end before stealing three in both the second and third ends.

“It was good to have a fast start, which this season we’ve lacked,” Portage coach Mike Statz said. “We made our shots. Dalton called a really good game. The guys responded and everyone was positive throughout the whole game.”

The Pardeeville team, which was skipped by Kaden Osterhaus and also included Daniel Hodgson (third), Brandon Losacker (second) and Andrew Hodgson (lead), rallied down the stretch, first scoring three in the fourth end, along with three more in the sixth before stealing two in the seventh end to make it 9-8.

The Warriors were able to escape with the victory through, getting a pair in the final end.

Statz said Portage made a mistake in the final few ends when it switched strategies to playing a more open type of game. “It isn’t a bad strategy to take, but you still have to score points when you have the hammer,” he said, “and in the seventh end, we didn’t do that.”

GIRLS: PORTAGE 7, PARDEEVILLE 6 (9)

Pardeeville 0110 3010 0 — 6

Portage 1001 0202 1 — 7

PARDEEVILLE LINEUP: DaKotah Crotty (skip), McKenna Cook (3rd), Ashton Osterhaus (2nd), Kayla Guenther (lead).

PORTAGE: Sam Jones (skip), Ellie Vorpahl (3rd), Halie Maier (2nd), Anna Tamboli (lead).

BOYS: PORTAGE 11, PARDEEVILLE 8

Portage 2330 1002 — 11

Pardeeville 0003 0320 — 8

PORTAGE LINEUP: Dalton Brauner (skip), Tyler Wood (3rd), Cade Harkner (2nd), Seth Reilly (lead).

PARDEEVILLE: Kaden Osterhaus (skip), Daniel Hodgson (3rd), Brandon Losacker (2nd), Andrew Hodgson (lead).