The Baraboo prep girls basketball team’s box scores have been dominated by seniors all season.
The seven seniors had their moment on Tuesday night, scoring every point in the host Thunderbirds’ 51-46 win over Badger North Conference rival Sauk Prairie.
“It was special,” Baraboo coach Michael Behl said after the win. “These (seniors) are a pretty important group to me since I’ve coached them all the way through. They’re hard workers and great kids that love basketball, so it was really nice to get a win. They deserve it.”
"We got a lot of good looks and did a lot of good things, but struggled to convert when we needed to," Sauk Prairie coach Amber Fiene said. "The turnovers and missed layups off of our defensive steals really deflated us and our confidence as we tried to finish out the game."
Baraboo’s seniors were the first seven players off the bench on Tuesday and they made the most of their final home game, as six seniors combined to score all of Baraboo’s 51 points.
“They’re pretty business-like when it comes to practice,” Behl said. “They work really hard at getting better, even in the offseason and the weight room.
“They understand that they’re working together as a team for one common goal. ... They’re a fun group to work with. I’m not sure what I’m going to do without them.”
Every point mattered as the T-Birds (5-14, 4-8 Badger North) held on from the free-throw line down the stretch. Naomi Breunig kept Sauk Prairie (4-14, 1-10) in the game in the closing minutes. The sophomore, who scored a game-high 17 points, made four late baskets to bring the Eagles back within one possession.
But Baraboo’s seniors consistently stepped to the line and made enough free throws to hold on. Lia Kieck and Lexi Johnson each made seven second-half free throws for the T-Birds. The duo each scored 13 of their 16 points after the break, while Haley Hannagan carried Baraboo early on, scoring eight of her 10 points before halftime.
Grace Stuckey, Megan Horstman and Addie Filus added three points apiece for Baraboo, while senior Abby Moon collected three straight assists as the T-Birds made their run in the first half.
The run started when junior Cece Oettinger assisted Horstman down low to cut the Baraboo deficit to 11-8 with 9 minutes, 50 seconds to play in the first half.
Hannagan scored three quick points, then Moon assisted Stuckey, Hannagan and Johnson on three consecutive baskets — including Stuckey and Hannagan 3-pointers — as the T-Birds opened up a 20-14 lead, their largest of the first half.
But Sauk Prairie didn’t go away, taking a 21-20 lead when Makenzie Breunig scored inside in the final minute. Hannagan briefly gave Baraboo the lead back before the teams went to halftime tied at 22.
The T-Birds started the second half with a 7-0 run, sparked by Johnson’s 3-pointer on the opening possession.
“We got a couple open looks and made them and we got a bunch of stops in a row,” Behl said of the start of the second half.
Baraboo maintained the seven-point lead for several minutes, but a Riley Breunig 3-pointer eventually cut the Sauk Prairie deficit to 33-32 with 11:54 remaining. Shortly after, Naomi Breunig grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back to give the Eagles a 34-33 lead, their first of the half.
Johnson came down and hit a quick 3-pointer with 9:10 remaining and the T-Birds didn’t trail the rest of the way, playing solid defense and making enough free throws to hang on.
“It was a matter of us digging in defensively ... and we made shots when we needed to,” Behl said, noting that the T-Birds got in the bonus early in the half to earn a number of trips to the free-throw line.
"The foul count really hurt us down the stretch," Fiene said. "We continued to put them on the line and they converted from the line."
Baraboo evened the season series, having suffered a 40-22 loss at Sauk Prairie on Dec. 14. The T-Birds ended a three-game losing streak against the Eagles, a stretch that dated back to Baraboo’s 61-50 road win on Jan. 24, 2017.
The T-Birds have won four of their past seven games, including three of the last four.
“Roles are defined really well and everyone is starting to play to their strengths,” Behl said. “It’s been really unselfish basketball.”
Baraboo will look to keep the run going with Friday’s Badger North game at Portage. The T-Birds suffered a 61-48 home loss to Portage on Dec. 18.
The Eagles will look to bounce back when they host DeForest on Friday. Sauk Prairie suffered a 73-31 loss at DeForest on Dec. 18.
"Last time we played them, we really struggled to execute the game plan and play solid defense," Fiene said. "I'm looking forward to a chance to redeem ourselves and play some solid team basketball. I think we are a lot better team than our record shows, and we just need a game where we put all of the pieces together."
Sauk Prairie 22 24 — 46
Baraboo 22 29 — 51
SAUK PRAIRIE — N. Breunig 8 0-0 17, Breininger 1 0-0 2, R. Breunig 4 0-1 10, O. Breunig 5 1-2 13, Marquardt 0 1-2 1, Schad 0 1-4 1, M. Breunig 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 3-9 46.
BARABOO — Hannagan 4 1-3 10, Kieck 4 8-14 16, Horstman 1 1-2 3, Stuckey 1 0-0 3, Filus 1 0-0 3, Johnson 3 8-10 16. Totals 14 18-29 51.
3-pointers: SP 5 (R. Breunig 2, O. Breunig 2, N. Breunig 1), B 5 (Johnson 2, Hannagan 1, Stuckey 1, Filus 1). Total fouls: SP 17, B 11.