After escaping an upset bid in its last game, the Wisconsin Dells boys basketball team was in another precarious position Friday night.

The Chiefs were again pushed to their limit, but for the second straight game prevailed, this time holding off Wautoma 68-63 in a South Central Conference game at Wisconsin Dells High School.

“It was one of those grinder type of games,” Wisconsin Dells coach Brad Rohling said. “You’re going to play a ton of games and you’re not going to get the ‘A’ game all the time. To our kids’ credit, I was proud of them and they pulled it out.”

The Chiefs, ranked No.5 in the latest Division 3 Associated Press poll, never trailed, but let things get tight late in the second half.

After leading by five at the break, Wisconsin Dells (17-1, 8-0 South Central) saw its lead fluctuate throughout the final 18 minutes, with the Hornets eventually tying the game at 59 on a bucket by sophomore Donte Borden with 6 minutes, 45 seconds left to play.

Wisconsin Dells reclaimed the lead with a putback by senior Alex Weiss with 5:20 to go for a 61-59 lead. After a number of empty possessions by both teams, Wautoma (11-8, 4-4) turned the ball over with 1:56 to play on a travelling violation.

The Chiefs took advantage when Bryson Funmaker was fouled with 1:42 to go and went to the line for a 1-and-1. The sophomore guard coolly sank both free throws for a 63-59 lead. The teams then traded steals before Wautoma junior Ryan Lois was fouled with 1:15 remaining.

Lois, who scored a game-high 28 points, followed suit by making a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 63-61. Looking to extend the lead, the Chiefs broke the Hornets press, eventually scoring on a layup by senior Jackson Sveum off a great feed from Weiss.

Sveum, who led the Chiefs with 18 points, added a free throw to complete the 3-point play and put the Chiefs up 66-61 with 52.8 to go.

Funmaker forced a steal on the ensuing Hornets possession and Weiss, who added 11, was able to make two of four free throws down the stretch to put the game on ice.

“To me, those are the two biggest plays at the end,” Rohling said on the Funmaker free throws and Sveum 3-point play. “Plus our defense finally started playing in the last two minutes. We forced them to take some tough shots, got some travel calls and got some rebounds. We were able to close it out.”

Wisconsin Dells came out of the gates strong, opening the game on a 14-5 run over the first 3 minutes, 40 seconds. The Chiefs pushed their lead to as many as 13 at 34-21 after a Weiss layup with 5 minutes left in the half, but the Hornets stung back. Wautoma closed the first half on a 15-7 run to cut the Chiefs lead to 41-36 at the break. Out of the intermission, the Hornets continued their push, tying the game at 43 with 15:32 to go.

The Chiefs answered Wautoma’s hot start with a 9-4 run, capped by six straight points by Sveum, to regain a 52-47 lead with 13:40 remaining. Wisconsin Dells however was never able to extend the lead past five as it was never able to fully put away the Hornets until the final minute.

“We had some nice runs, but we just couldn’t put them away on the defensive end,” Rohling said. “They kept answering either by offensive rebounds or hitting threes, and it came down to that we couldn’t get stops on the defensive end when we needed to.”

With the win, the Chiefs remain in sole possession of first place in the SCC. Wisconsin Dells must now go on the road for its final four games of the regular season, including a pivotal conference clash against rival Mauston next Friday.

“We’re going to have to be road warriors and take games from people because they don’t hand out those conference championships,” Rohling said. “You have to go earn them.”

Wisconsin Dells 58, Poynette 31

After holding off the Hornets, the Chiefs had a quick turnaround with a non-conference game against Poynette on Saturday.

Wisconsin Dells made easy work of the Pumas, rolling to 58-31 win. The Chiefs took a 10-point cushion into the break before turning things up in the second half. Wisconsin Dells outscored Poynette 30-13 over the final 18 minutes to coast home for the 27-point win.

Brandt notched a game-high 16 points for the Chiefs, who had nine different players score. Weiss added nine points and junior Dylan Anchor chipped in eight for Wisconsin Dells.

Wisconsin Dells 69, Richland Center 44

Wisconsin Dells extended its winning streak to eight game with a 69-44 non-conference victory in Lake Mills on Tuesday night.

Senior Tanner Brandt scored a game-high 19 points to lead the way, while fellow senior Alex Weiss finished with 18 points.

WISCONSIN DELLS 68, WAUTOMA 63

Wautoma 36 27 — 63

Wisconsin Dells 41 27 — 68

WAUTOMA — Borland 4 0-0 8, Hendrickson 7 5-5 23, Panich 0 4-4 4, Lois 11 3-4 28. Totals 22 12-13 63.

WISCONSIN DELLS — Weiss 6 3-8 16, Brandt 3 4-4 11, McClolskey 1 0-0 3, Sveum 7 2-3 18, Hirst 3 4-8 11, Funmaker 3 2-2 9. Totals 23 15-25 68.

3-point goals — WA 7 (Hendrickson 4, Lois 3), WD 7 (Weiss 1, Brandt 1, McClolskey 1, Sveum 2, Hirst 1, Funmaker 1). Total fouls — WA 15, WD 16. Fouled out — Hendrickson.

WISCONSIN DELLS 58, POYNETTE 31

Wisconsin Dells 28 30 — 58

Poynette 18 13 — 31

WISCONSIN DELLS — Weiss 4 1-3 9, Brandt 6 3-4 16, Mackinnis 1 1-2 4, McClolskey 1 0-0 3, Sveum 1 0-0 2, Hirst 2 1-3 5, Funmaker 2 2-3 7, Anchor 2 4-6 8, Musiedlak 2 0-0 4. Totals 21 12-21 58.

POYNETTE — Bruchs 1 1-2 3, Repka 2 1-1 7, Klosky 5 2-3 13, Moll 1 1-2 3, Avery 0, Wheeler 1 2-2 5, Dolphin 0. Totals 10 6-13 31.

3-point goals — WD 4 (Brandt 1, Mackinnis 1, McClolskey 1, Funmaker 1), POY 4 (Repka 2Klosky 1, Wheeler 1). Total fouls — WD 18, POY 19. Fouled out — Repka.

WISCONSIN DELLS 69, RICHLAND CENTER 44

Wisconsin Dells 28 41 — 69

Richland Center 14 30 — 44

WISCONSIN DELLS — Brandt 8 1-1 19, Mackinnis 0 1-2 1, McClolskey 2 0-0 4, Sveum 4 2-2 12, Hirst 2 2-2 6, Funmaker 1 0-0 2, Eck 1 0-0 3, Weiss 7 1-4 18, Anchor 1 0-0 2, Pikula 1 0-0 2. Totals 27 7-12 69.

RICHLAND CENTER — Miller 1 1-2 3, Johnson 2 0-0 6, Schmitz 6 2-2 16, Schultz 2 0-0 5, Schultz 2 0-0 4, Eunissa 1 0-0 3, Mohr 2 0-0 5, McCoy 0 2-2 2. Totals 16 5-14 44.

3-point goals — WD 8 (Brandt 2, Sveum 2, Eck 1, Weiss 3), RC 7 (Johnson 2, Schmitz 2, Schultz 1, Eunissa 1, Mohr 1). Total fouls — WD 14, RC 12.

Follow Sean Davis on Twitter @SDavis_PDR.