With just two games remaining in their regular season, the postseason picture is beginning to become clear for the Waunakee girls’ basketball team.
The Warriors split a pair of games last week, falling to the DeForest at home on Tuesday before besting Reedsburg on the road Friday.
For much of the game’s 36 minutes, the Warriors outplayed the Norskies. Two quick runs for DeForest – one in each half – proved to be the difference.
The Norskies’ first run came with five minutes to play in the first half. Waunakee’s lead stood at 25-20 after a pair of Ashley Sawicki free throws, and the Warriors looked poised to take a significant lead heading into halftime.
DeForest’s defense stepped up, forcing a handful of quick turnovers that led to easy points on the other end.
“It just seemed like every turnover they got led to a layup tonight,” said Waunakee’s Head Coach Marcus Richter. “Our turnovers weren’t throwing the ball out of bounds; our turnovers were throwing it to girls in the top of their zone, which led to a lot of easy ones for them.”
Two and a half minutes after trailing by five points, a 12-0 Norski run allowed DeForest to take a 32-25 lead.
Waunakee continued to fight back, eventually re-taking the lead three minutes into the second half on a basket by Elena Maier.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, that’s the last time they’d hold a lead all night. DeForest used another quick run – this time a two-minute, 11-0 run – to take a double-digit lead. The Norskies continued to extend their lead as time wore on, ultimately dealing Waunakee their fifth loss of the season and second in a row.
“I think the way the last two games have gone for us, everybody – including the coaching staff – needs to take a look in the mirror and figure out what we can do to get better,” said Richter. “Yeah, Beaver Dam and DeForest are very good teams, but we want to set the standard that we should be competitive and winning these games. Unfortunately, we just didn’t get the job done tonight.”
Maier led the Warriors with 16 points on the night, followed by 15 from Brooke Ehle. Sawicki and Lauren Statz each added seven points, while Melanie Watson tacked on four. Lauren Meudt rounded out the scoring with three points.
Three days later, Waunakee got back on track in Reedsburg.
No one player starred for the Warriors against the Beavers, but a wealth of scoring options proved to be too much for Reedsburg to overcome. No Waunakee player reached double figures in scoring, but five combined to score 38 of the team’s 48 points, keeping Reedsburg guessing all night.
Waunakee held a narrow, 21-19 lead at halftime; Reedsburg managed to keep the score close as time ticked down in the second half. Every time the Beavers came within two, the Warriors had an answer to remain in front.
First, it was Maier on a three-point play after Reedsburg closed to 31-29. Next, it was Dotzler who drained a three when the Beavers cut the lead to 36-34. After Reedsburg responded with a three of their own, Ehle sank another three for the Warriors to push the lead back to five: 42-37.
Another three – this time from Statz – pushed the Warrior lead to five with three and a half minutes to play. Reedsburg closed to 45-42 with 2:21 to go; this time, Waunakee responded with defense.
The Warriors held the Beavers scoreless the rest of the way to preserve the victory. For good measure, Dotzler and Maier hit three free throws in the final minute to give Waunakee a 48-42 win.
Maier led the Warriors with nine points, followed by eight from Statz and Sawicki. Dotzler added seven points, while Ehle scored six. Watson tacked on four points, followed by Elsa Stedman with three and Meudt with two. Ava Bryan rounded out the scoring with one point.
With two games left before the postseason begins, Waunakee’s record stands at 15-5 (8-4 Badger North). A strong finish would give the Warriors a case for the third seed in their sectional behind second-ranked Middleton and third-ranked Madison Memorial.
Tip time for Thursday’s home contest against Sauk Prairie is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. at the Waunakee High School Fieldhouse.