The Reedsburg girls basketball team has been snake bitten in a number of close losses this season.
The Beavers put any doubt of that away early Thursday, steamrolling to a 56-16 win over Portage in a Badger North Conference game at Reedsburg Area High School. Sophomore Mahra Wieman tallied a game-high 21 points to pace the Beavers in a sixth consecutive win over the Warriors.
“We’re a team that when we hit our 3-pointers at a good clip, we can play against most teams. If you look at our stats throughout the year, the nights we haven’t shot well against those great teams, we haven’t fared too well,” Reedsburg coach Mark Simon said.
“When we shoot the ball well, I really believe we can play against most of the teams in the state in Division 2.”
That strong shooting was on display early in the first half as Reedsburg (14-7, 8-5 Badger North) quickly pulled away. The Beavers held the Warriors scoreless the first 8-plus minutes of the game, taking a commanding 19-0 lead.
Grace Benish scored seven points during the run and sophomore Trenna Cherney capped things off with a pair of free throws with 9 minutes, 31 seconds left in the half.
“We got it going early; I thought we shared it well and found the open player. We got off to a great start and just kept working,” Simon said.
Portage (2-19, 1-12) eventually got off the schneid when senior Hilary Nelson got a layup to fall with 9:10 to go to cut the deficit to 19-2. The Warriors had plenty of chances early on to cut into the lead, but they had seven empty possessions and five turnovers.
The Beavers made the most of those chances and quickly turned the tide after Nelson’s layup, countering with a 10-1 run. After Cherney split a pair of free throws, Wieman canned a 3-pointer from the wing for a 23-2 lead with 8:30 to go.
Cherney, Benish and freshman Ruby Olson each added layups to counteract a free throw by Portage junior Emma Kreuziger for a 29-3 lead. Kreuziger added two more free throws to pull Portage within 29-5 with 4:29 until the break, but Reedsburg came right back.
Reedsburg closed the half strong, finishing out the final 4-plus minutes on a 9-2 run, including a 3-pointer by Wieman in the final seconds for a 38-7 halftime advantage. Wieman had 13 points in the first half, including all three of her 3-pointers, as the Beavers used their speedy pace to race past the Warriors.
“We love playing fast and I think any team that has the capability of playing fast will do it,” Simon said. “When we get in the open court, we can be a really good offensive team because we have players that can really distribute the ball and make others better.”
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“We always want to get out and run, and I think tonight was a case where we got the ball up the floor and got a few easy baskets.”
The Beavers’ momentum carried over into the second half as they started the final 18 minutes on a 13-2 run, for a 51-9 lead to put a running clock into effect at the midway point. Not long after that, Simon emptied the bench and the Beavers saw out the final nine minutes.
Along with Wieman, Cherney added 15 points and Benish chipped in 11, while Nelson led the Warriors with six points. As impressive as the offensive output was, Simon applauded the Beavers’ ability to pressure Portage without picking fouls, a major struggle for the team.
The veteran coach also commended the group’s ability to share the ball and exploit Portage’s zone defense, something that will come in handy as the postseason approaches.
“Cherney and Mahra have led us offensively, and if we can get consistency from our No. 3-6 we’re going to be a tough team to beat,” Simon said. “Each player has had big nights, and in the postseason you have to have, really, about five kids that can have a 15-20 point night.”
“I think we have multiple kids that can score in double-digits, so let’s see what happens. I feel good about where we’re at; we’re a young team, but I think we’ve gained experience as the season has gone on.”
Reedsburg will look to keep the good times rolling when it travels to Beaver Dam for a regular season finale next Thursday. The No. 2 ranked and three-time defending Div. 2 state champion Golden Beavers got the upper hand in the teams’ first meeting, 64-56, one of Reedsburg’s five losses decided by single-digits.
REEDSBURG 56, PORTAGE 16
Portage 7 9 — 16
Reedsburg 38 22 — 56
PORTAGE (fg ft-fta pts) — Garrigan 0 0-1 0, Nelson 3 0-0 6, Middleton-Harris 1 0-0 2, Kreuziger 0 3-4 3, Ratz 1 1-2 3, Woodhouse 1 0-0 2. Totals 6 4-7 16.
REEDSBURG — C. Cherney 1 0-0 2, Olson 1 1-2 3, Halvensleben 0 0-2 0, T. Cherney 4 7-8 15, Dietz 1 1-2 4, Mah. Wieman 8 2-2 21, Benish 5 0-0 11. Totals 20 11-16 56.
3-point goals: P 0; R 5 (Mah. Wieman 3, Benish 1, Dietz 1). Total fouls: P 14; R 13.
Reedsburg manager Amy Sass
Reedsburg coach Mark Simon
Follow Sean Davis on Twitter @SDavis_PDR or contact him at 608-745-3512.