In a defensive game between two evenly matched teams, there’s always a run that decides the game.
That run went Madison Edgewood’s way on Tuesday night. The Crusaders scored 13 unanswered points over a second-half stretch of 5-plus minutes to pull away and hand host Baraboo a 53-44 season-opening loss in a non-conference game.
“We just didn’t do a good enough job creating, and making, enough shots,” fourth-year Baraboo coach Darrin Berger said after the loss. “A lot of these kids played (last year), but this was the first time they were being asked to play for 20 minutes or being asked to score the ball. ... For some of them, it was the first time they’ve played in a varsity game at all. So part of it is that lack of experience.”
Baraboo (0-1) trailed 23-19 at halftime before coming back on the strength of Calvin Peterson and Caden Blum. Peterson hit a 3-pointer on the opening possession of the second half, then Blum and Peterson each scored inside to pull the T-Birds within 29-28.
The T-Birds took their first lead of the second half when Max Koenig made a pair of free throws to give Baraboo a 30-29 advantage with 11 minutes, 40 seconds remaining.
Edgewood (1-1) briefly regained the lead before Peterson hit a 3-pointer and Blum scored inside to give Baraboo a 35-31 advantage, leading Edgewood to call timeout with 8:05 remaining.
The momentum flipped, as the Crusaders went on a 13-0 run to take control.
Michael Meriggioli scored a bucket and later added a free throw, then Michael Regnier hit a 3-pointer to give the Crusaders a 37-34 lead with 5:40 remaining. The Crusaders led the rest of the way, as Isandro Jimenez hit a jumper on the ensuing possession and Edgewood opened up a 44-35 lead before Noah Jackson got one to drop to end Baraboo’s 5:38 scoreless drought.
Peterson followed with a 3-pointer that trimmed the deficit to 44-40 with 1:58 remaining. But that was as close as Baraboo could get, as Edgewood made enough free throws to hold on down the stretch.
“Offensively, we’ve just got to keep working on the things we want to do, finding ways to get drives and passes inside,” Berger said. “I think we can do better on offense, for sure.”
There were positive signs for a Baraboo team that lost its top three scorers from last season. The T-Birds led for nearly the entirety of the first half, building an 8-0 advantage after holding Edgewood scoreless for the opening 4:32.
“Without the free throws at the end, we hold them to the 40s, which is good,” Berger said. “Last year, we were giving up 70 points all the time, so we bought into working harder on defense and we took away a lot of things.”
The Crusaders slowly clawed their way back in the first half, taking their first lead of the night when Jimenez made a 3-pointer to give Edgewood a 21-19 lead with 1:20 remaining.
“Early on, we pushed the tempo,” Berger said of how the offensive struggled after a fast start. “When we did that, we compressed the defense and we were wide open. Then we got tired and didn’t push the ball anymore. So part of it is a conditioning thing.”
Peterson successfully stepped into his new role as a go-to scorer after primarily serving as a role player last year. The junior made four 3-pointers on the way to scoring a game-high 20 points.
“He’s a good player,” Berger said. “He’s really young for his class, so last year he was the age of a freshman and now he’s starting to come into his own body. That’s right where we need him; if he can score in the upper double digits, that’s good. Now we need to get a couple of other guys opportunities and find that second, third and fourth scorer that we didn’t really get tonight.”
Jackson added nine points for the T-Birds, while Blum and Caden Carpenter each chipped in five points.
Jimenez and Meriggioli each scored 17 points to carry Edgewood. The Crusaders, who went 9-15 last season, evened their record to 1-1 after suffering an 82-65 home loss to Janesville Craig on Friday.
Tuesday was the first meeting between the T-Birds and Crusaders since Edgewood recorded a 49-46 win over Baraboo on Jan. 23, 2015.
The T-Birds have lost seven straight games dating back to last season, when Baraboo went 4-19 overall, including 0-14 in Badger North Conference play.
The T-Birds will get a chance to end their conference losing streak when they host Mount Horeb on Friday. The Vikings swept Baraboo last season, notching a 67-35 home win and a 62-53 road win.
“I watched them play already this year,” Berger said of Mount Horeb. “A lot of guards, a lot of quickness. They can shoot, drive and they bring a ton of guys back. The preseason, they’re ranked in the top 10 in the state so the guys know that it’s going to be a battle. ... The last three years, we’ve always played them really tough here in Baraboo, so if we can clean some things up defensively with our help and if we can find a few ways to create better shots offensively, I think we can do it.”
Edgewood 23 30 — 53
Baraboo 19 25 — 44
EDGEWOOD — Jimenez 8 4-4 17, Meriggioli 6 6-8 17, Illgen 3 0-0 6, Regnier 2 1-2 5, M. Wendler 1 0-0 2, J. Wendler 1 0-0 2, Salzwedel 1 0-0 2, Clark 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 12-14 53.
BARABOO — Peterson 11 2-2 20, Carpenter 2 2-5 5, Blum 2 1-2 5, Jackson 5 1-2 9, Koenig 0 2-2 2, Quinn 1 0-0 2, Schmelzer 0 0-1 1. Totals 14 9-17 44.
3-point goals — E 5 (Jimenez 3, Regnier 1, Meriggioli 1), B 7 (Peterson 4, Jackson 2, Carpenter 1). Total fouls — E 17, B 16.