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With the temperatures dropping, the high school winter season officially kicked off on Monday as girls basketball teams began practices.

Portage, along with the rest of the state, hit the hardwood again in its pursuit of growth in year two under head coach Jessica Howe. The Warriors had an up-and-down campaign in their first year under Howe, who took over the reins from Peter Hibner last season.

Portage started the year with a difficult stretch, going 2-8 over its first 10 games before rattling off a four-game winning streak, including winning the Minocqua Lakeland Holiday tournament.

The Warriors failed to build off that momentum however, losing six of their final eight regular season games en route to finishing the year 8-15 overall and 5-9 in Badger North Conference play.

Portage returns four starters from last year’s unit that averaged 44.5 points per game, including a pair of All-Badger North honorable mention selections in junior McKena Yelk and senior Mackenzie Roth.

Junior Katelyn Belleau and senior Tess Wilson are the other two returning starters, and a strong core of players up from the junior varsity team are itching to help the Warriors crack the top half of the always tough Badger North.

Portage opens its season on the road at Watertown on Nov. 16 before hosting Badger North foe Reedsburg in the Warriors’ home opener on Nov. 20.