The two-time defending WIAA Division 2 state champion Beaver Dam girls basketball team visited Portage on Tuesday night, and the Golden Beavers showed the Warriors why many expect them to win a third title in a row.
Led by 6-foot-4 senior Aly Van Loo in the post, along with senior Tara Stauffacher and sophomore Maty Wilke, Beaver Dam rolled to an impressive 78-50 victory in a Badger North Conference tilt.
Van Loo finished with a game-high 18 points, Stauffacher had 13 points before sitting out most of the second half with what appeared to be a minor ankle injury, and Wilke added 10.
Beaver Dam (5-0, 3-0 Badger North) used it relentless full-court pressure to frustrate the Warriors right from the start on the way to building a 15-3 lead in the opening minutes.
Stauffacher got her team rolling with a four-point play just 7 seconds into the game, as she was fouled while making a 3-pointer and nailed the ensuing the free throw to make it 4-0. The play was emblematic of how the night would go for the Warriors.
Senior MacKenzie Roth, who finished with nine points for Portage (1-3, 1-2), did drain a 3-pointer to cut Beaver Dam’s lead in half at 6-3, but two quick buckets by Wilke followed, and Stauffacher canned another 3-pointer to give Beaver Dam at 13-3 lead.
Portage head coach Jessica Howe was impressed with how Beaver Dam defended her team.
“Beaver Dam is going to bring it to you. They’re at the next level,” Howe said. “That’s where you wish your program can go. We’re just going to keep learning and growing. I thought we handled traps really well tonight. We just got to be able to put the ball in the hoop, and that comes from time in the gym and confidence.”
Van Loo started to heat up inside for Beaver Dam, scoring from the right block to make it 15-3. She added a layup, which was part of a 13-0 run which gave the Golden Beavers a 28-5 lead with 9:40 left in the opening half.
A basket by Portage junior McKena Yelk, who led Portage with 12 points, ended the run and made it 28-7, but Beaver Dam scored the next 18 points to blow the game open on their way to taking a 48-9 halftime lead.
The lead only grew in the second half, as Van Loo again went to work on the block, scoring four quick points to open the second half. The Warriors didn’t have anyone with the size to match up with Van Loo under the basket.
“Their height is genetic blessing, but they put the time in to be able to make their shots and understand the game,” Howe said. “All our girls can do is try to learn how to keep them away from the hoop as much as possible and not let them get second chances. When shooters get hot, they go on runs, so we kind of messed up there when we gave them second opportunities.”
Portage put together a mini run with back-to-back baskets from Roth and junior Brianna Brandner to make it a 55-13 game. Then late in the second half, Yelk hit a pair of 3-pointers for a rare offensive highlight for the Warriors.
Howe said her team would learn from playing against Beaver Dam.
“We’re so glad that we get this kind of a challenge,” Howe said. “We take the little things and we grow. Now we’re looking to Waunakee. We’re better because of Beaver Dam tonight.”
Beaver Dam 48 30 — 78
Portage 9 16 — 25
BEAVER DAM — Jens 5, Burchardt 6, Scharfenberg 4, Schumann 5, Donaldson 8, Hodgson 4, Uhrich 3, Wilke 10, Stonewall 2, Stauffacher 13, Van Loo 18. Totals 31 8-14 78.
PORTAGE — Nelson 2, Yelk 12, Brandner 2, Roth 9. Totals 8 6-12 25.
3-point goals — BD 8 (Donaldson 2, Stauffacher 2, Jens 1, Scharfenberg 1, Schuman 1, Uhrich 1), P 3 (Yelk 2, Roth 1). Total fouls — BD 13, P 14.