BEAVER DAM – Another year, another Badger Challenge victory in the first-place game for the Beaver Dam girls basketball team.
Senior guard Jada Donaldson scored a game-high 17 points in leading the host Golden Beavers to a 59-45 victory over Oregon on Saturday night.
“The defense was kind of playing off, so I was able to pull up,” said the 5-foot-6 Donaldson, a UW-Milwaukee commit. “My teammates, we were executing our offenses well and getting the shots we look for through them.”
Senior Carley Burchardt and juniors Maty Wilke and Natalie Jens added 10 points apiece for Beaver Dam (12-2).
For the third consecutive year since joining the conference, Beaver Dam claimed victory in the Badger Challenge first-place game.
“We take a lot of pride in being in the Badger Conference,” Beaver Dam assistant coach Dan Hallman said. “We love it. We think it’s a competitive conference. It’s just something we strive to do every year. This year was more special because we had a chance to show off our new arena. And to play a good team for the Badger Challenge championship is always a privilege and we take a lot of pride in being able to be in that game.”
Beaver Dam head coach Tim Chase, who coached the game, wasn’t available after the game due to illness, Hallman said.
The Beavers, top-ranked in Division 2 in The Associated Press poll, never trailed, racing to a 15-1 lead.
Senior Kaitlyn Schrimpf and junior Emily Statz led the way for the Panthers (9-4), each scoring nine points. Senior Liz Uhl added eight points.
Three-time defending WIAA Division 2 state champion Beaver Dam was the top team from the Badger North Conference. Oregon, the top team from the Badger South, had its five-game winning streak snapped.
Donaldson’s performance was important because Wilke, Jens and 6-3 junior forward Paige Hodgson were in foul trouble in the second half.
“Definitely, we struggled with the fouls,” Donaldson said. “But I thought we kept pulling together and working harder through that.”
“I don’t even remember her missing maybe more than one shot tonight, tops,” Hallman said about Donaldson. “She really bailed us out tonight offensively. She was feeling it. She took advantage of pull-up jumpers with her quickness, and hit a timely 3 late in the game to seal it for us.”
The Beavers used an 11-0 run and seized a 15-1 lead to begin the game.
“Beaver Dam came out and as one of our coaches said, `They played as if they were the underdog,’ which as a good team, that’s what you want,” Oregon coach Adam Wamsley said.
Jens started the flurry by hitting a 3-point shot, then scoring on a drive. Wilke, freshman forward Kylie Wittnebel and Donaldson followed with baskets – Donaldson’s 15-foot jumper giving the Beavers the 14-point advantage at the 12-minute, 11-second mark.
The Beavers scored six unanswered points on baskets by Donaldson, junior forward Avery Stonewall and Wilke and led 23-8 with 8:07 left in the first half.
Junior Carleigh Roberts converted a three-point play with 2:55 left in the first half, pulling the Panthers within 25-13.
But Burchardt scored on a scoop shot with 1:18 left and Jens scored on a putback just prior to the buzzer sounding, sending Beaver Dam into halftime with a 31-14 lead.
Wamsley said his team competed better in the second half, outscoring Beaver Dam 31-28.
“I told them (at halftime) this is like a sectional atmosphere at this amazing facility … with a really good team playing awesome defense. We have to compete the whole game and if we do that I bet the outcome could have different,” Wamsley said. “So, we are learning. We haven’t played many of these games in the past. We are building this program up, so we need to learn to compete in these games. That’s the biggest thing I want to take away from it.”
Beaver Dam’s lead ballooned to 33-15 on Donaldson’s 15-foot jumper with 15:48 to play.
Oregon responded with eight consecutive points, closing within 33-23 with 13:15 left. Schrimpf scored with the left hand on power move to the hoop, Uhl came up with a steal and layin, Statz scored inside and Uhl scored a basket off the fast break during the 8-0 run.
But Donaldson answered with a 15-foot jumper, putting the Beavers ahead 35-23 with 13:04 left.
Jens then sank a 3-point shot from the left corner, increasing Beaver Dam’s lead to 38-23 with 11:22 remaining.
Schrimpf’s basket rallied Oregon within 38-25 with 10:53 left, but Burchardt scored to make it 40-25 with 10:38 to play.
Donaldson made a 3-pointer with 5:58 left, giving the Beavers a 49-30 lead.
Wamsley said the Panthers played with more energy in the second half.
“We won the second half, I think 31-28,” he said. “Even though we didn’t win the game, we can hang our hat on that.”
University of Wisconsin women’s basketball coach Jonathan Tsipis and University of Iowa women’s coach Lisa Bluder were among those in attendance.
Wilke is being heavily recruited by numerous universities.
The Beavers defeated the Panthers for the second time this season. Beaver Dam defeated Oregon 70-46 on Nov. 26 at the Kohl Center.
“We showed a lot of growth tonight,” Wamsley said.
At Beaver Dam
BEAVER DAM 59, OREGON 45
OREGON (fg ft-fta pts) — Peterson 0 1-2 1, Roberts 3 1-1 7, Lang 0 3-4 3, Schrimpf 4 0-1 9, Statz 3 2-2 9, Uhl 3 2-4 8, Nedelcoff 1 0-0 2, Mortenson 0 0-2 0, Bloyer 1 4-6 6. Totals 15 13-22 45.
BEAVER DAM — Jens 4 0-0 10, Burchardt 4 1-2 10, Wittnebel 3 0-0 6, Wilke 5 0-0 10, Donaldson 8 0-0 17, Hodgson 1 0-0 2, Ashley 0 0-2 0, Stonewall 1 2-4 4. Totals 26 3-8 59.
3-point goals: Or 2 (Schrimpf 1, Statz 1); BD 4 (Jens 2, Burchardt 1, Donaldson 1). Total fouls: Or 11; BD 23. Fouled out: Hodgson.