STOUGHTON – In the blink of an eye, the top-ranked Beaver Dam girls basketball team turned a two-point lead against third-ranked Monroe into a comfortable cushion at the inaugural Badger Conference Challenge on Saturday night.
The Golden Beavers scored 15 unanswered points in 3 minutes, 44 seconds and opened a 17-point first-half lead only 7:54 into the game.
Beaver Dam, No. 1 in Division 2 in The Associated Press poll, never was threatened after that and defeated Monroe 69-40 in the first-place pairing at the Badger Challenge at Stoughton High School.
“We had a good (scoring) balance in the first half,” Beaver Dam coach Tim Chase said. “We had a good stretch there where we shared the ball and moved the ball. And defensively we got stops.”
University of Wisconsin recruit Tara Stauffacher scored 13 of her team-high 20 points in the first half to top Beaver Dam (11-2), the Badger North Conference leader in the school’s first season in the league due to realignment.
Stauffacher, a 5-foot-11 forward, sank three 3-pointers in a game watched by UW coach Jonathan Tsipis.
“I was trying to take open shots,” Stauffacher said. “When I got going, I knew what was happening. And it is one of the best things. Some games, you know when you are not on. I felt like I was (on this game).”
Afton Bartol, a 6-3 senior, added 10 points and senior Maryn Ferron and freshman Maty Wilke scored nine points apiece for defending WIAA Division 2 state champion Beaver Dam, which led 37-20 at halftime.
Stauffacher’s 3-pointer completed a 20-2 run that gave the Beavers a 30-10 advantage with 8:30 remaining in the first half.
“They just do things very well,” Monroe coach Sam Mathiason said. “They play at a pace that is very hard to defend. For as good as they are offensively, I think they are even better defensively. But they can score in a hurry. … They can play in a lot of different ways.”
Junior guard Emily Benzschawel had a game-high 21 points and junior guard Sydney Hilliard added 12 points for Badger South Conference leader Monroe (13-2).
“They have a great defense,” Benzschawel said. “They fly around, they hustle and they get the loose balls. We will have to go back and see what we can improve on.”
It was the first meeting between the teams this season. The Beavers defeated the Cheesemakers twice last season, including winning 62-47 in the WIAA Division 2 state tournament semifinals.
“They are very good,” Chase said. “They are a very tough team to defend. … I was happy with our defensive effort. To hold Monroe to 40 points is pretty amazing.”
Stauffacher said the victory helped show Beaver Dam's prowess.
“It was a good validation,” Stauffacher said. “People say we are one of the best teams in the state. This kind of proved it.”
Monroe tried to chip away in the second half. Benzschawel sank a 3-pointer, helping the Cheesemakers close within 46-32 with 11:54 left. Hilliard’s basket brought Monroe within 46-34 with 10:44 to play.
After Bartol scored inside to give the Beavers a 50-35 lead, Hilliard completed a three-point play, cutting Monroe’s deficit to 50-38 with 8:25 remaining. But the Beavers outscored the Cheesemakers 19-2 the rest of the way.
Bartol’s putback started a 6-0 run. Benzschawel scored on a drive to the basket and Monroe trailed 56-40 with 6:05 left. The Cheesemakers didn’t score again, while the Beavers scored the final 13 points to turn the game into a rout.
The Badger South won five of the eight Badger Challenge games Friday and Saturday.
Beaver Dam 37 32 — 69
Monroe 20 20 — 40
BEAVER DAM — Burchardt 1 0-0 2, Donaldson 2 0-0 4, Ferron 3 1-2 9, Jens 2 0-0 4, Schumann 3 0-0 6, Bartol 5 0-1 10, Storhoff 0 1-2 1, Wilke 3 2-6 9, Stauffacher 7 3-3 20, Van 2 0-0 4. Totals 28 7-14 69.
MONROE — E. Benzschawel 7 6-6 21, Hilliard 4 4-6 12, S. Mathiason 0 1-2 1, Tostrud 2 0-0 4, Mathiason 1 0-0 2. Totals 14 11-14 40.
3-point goals — BD 6 (Ferron 2, Wilke 1, Stauffacher 3), MON 1 (E. Benzschawel 1). Total fouls — BD 13, MON 17.
From State Journal staff
Stoughton 69, Reedsburg 54
Junior Alex Ashworth set the pace with 15 points as the host Vikings (11-3) defeated the Beavers (11-3) in the second-place pairing.
Stoughton led by 20 points at the break. Seniors Cassidy Bach and Paige Halverson also scored in double figures for the Vikings.
Senior Brooklyn Schyvinck scored 17 points and Ava Douglas added 16 for Reedsburg.
Madison Edgewood 59, Waunakee 50
Ella Foti scored 18 points and Caitlin Link added 17 points as the Crusaders (10-3) beat the Warriors (9-4) in the third-place pairing.
Astrid Harrison and Maddie Farnsworth each had 14 points for Waunakee.
DeForest 52, Milton 48
Junior Aleah Grundahl scored 22 points to lead the Norskies (5-9) to a win over the Red Hawks (7-6) in the fourth-place pairing.
Freshman Grace Roth added 11 points for DeForest. Junior Chloe Buescher paced Milton with 18 points.
Monona Grove 66, Portage 52
McKenna Warnock made 13 of 16 free throws and finished with 33 points as Silver Eagles (8-5) beat the Warriors (6-9) in the fifth-place pairing.
McKenna Yelk had 19 points and MacKenzie Roth 17 for Portage.
Oregon 61, Sauk Prairie 42
Senior Ellen McCorkle finished with 22 points as the Panthers (10-4) defeated the Eagles (5-10) in the sixth-place pairing.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Schrimpf added 12 points for Oregon. Junior Camryn Ballweg led Sauk Prairie with nine points.