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ASHWAUBENON — After falling in a sectional final as freshmen, Tara Stauffacher and Paige Schumann had high aspirations for the rest of their high school careers.

Accompanied by Beaver Dam girls basketball coach Tim Chase, Stauffacher and Schumann attended a camp at the University of Notre Dame in the summer of 2016.

Chase, knowing the potential of his young players, posed a question to them.

“I said, ‘I want you guys to let me know how many state championships you guys want to win,’ after we left that camp,” Chase recalled. “I remember Paige texting me when we got back home from that. She said, ‘We want to win three state championships, Coach.’”

Mission accomplishment.

Beaver Dam used a strong start and a balanced offensive attack to beat Badger Conference foe Monroe 65-46 in the WIAA Division 2 state championship game on Saturday night at the Resch Center.

Beaver Dam is just the fifth girls basketball program is Wisconsin history to accomplish a three-peat. Milwaukee Vincent (2007-09) was the last to do it.

“Honestly, it’s truly something that we dreamed of doing, but it took a lot of work at practices to continually get better, to continually push each other — and know that we have that target on our back to go out and have to play every game like it’s the last game we’ll ever play,” said Stauffacher, a University of Wisconsin signee who scored a team-high 15 points.

Added Schumann: “Even when we were little girls it was always something that we looked to do. After losing that game to (Green Bay) Notre Dame our freshman year, it really pushed us to strive to get the state title.”

It looked as though Beaver Dam (27-1) was going to run away with the game early. It took Monroe 3½ minutes to score its first point as Beaver Dam jumped out to an 18-2 lead. Monroe (21-7) was forced into seven turnovers during that opening stretch.

“You know that they put on a lot of pressure, you try to stay composed,” Monroe coach Sam Mathiason said. “They just speed you up, and as they speed you up all of a sudden shots that you could maybe knock down don’t go down and you get a turnover because you’re a little quicker with your feet than you need to be.”

UW commit Sydney Hilliard led a comeback attempt late in the half for Monroe. She scored eight points as the Cheesemakers pulled within 30-19 entering the break.

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Beaver Dam, which is 80-3 in the past three seasons, didn’t waste much time stretching its lead to start the second half. Schumann and Maty Wilke both drained 3-pointers as the Golden Beavers went up 41-25 at the 15:15 mark. Not long later, Wilke hit another 3 and Jada Donaldson converted a three-point play and Beaver Dam led by 22. However, the Cheesemakers weren’t going to give up. Fueled by seven points from Hilliard, Monroe went on an 11-0 run to cut it to 54-43 with 4:23 left.

The rest of the way, the Cheesemakers only got off two field goal attempts and turned the ball over three times.

“Our kids play defense and we don’t get enough credit and how important that is to play winning basketball,” Chase said.

Hilliard, who finished with 23 points, had 15 points in the second half for Monroe. Emily Benzschawel added 11 points.

“I was just looking to be aggressive,” said Hilliard, who leaves Monroe as the school’s all-time leading scorer. “I knew that their defense was going to be really good and they showed that in the first and second half. Yeah, I thought we did a good job of passing it right away and then once I got the ball, I looked to be aggressive and we got some fouls and we converted.”

Beaver Dam will return nine players next season, including starters Wilke and Donaldson, so there is already talk about a four-peat. No Wisconsin team has ever accomplished that feat.

“This season was a grind,” Chase said. “We’re a little tired right now. We’ll sit down with our kids and make them understand if this is something we’re going to go for then we’ve really got to go for it. It’s not easy to do what we’ve done, the time and effort you’ve got to do. Even though we had a talented group this year, that’s just not enough. You’ve got to work every day, you’ve got to get along. … Our future kids are going to have to understand the sacrifices that you have to make to play at this level.

Monroe 19 27 — 46

Beaver Dam 30 35 — 65

MONROE — M. Benzschawel 2-7 2-2 6, Mathiason 1-7 2-2 4, Hilliard 9-14 5-7 23, Tostrud 1-2 0-0 2, E. Benzschawel 5-10 1-1 11, Updike 0-1 0-0 0, Bunker 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-42 10-12 46.

BEAVER DAM — Jens 3-5 0-0 7, Schumann 4-8 3-4 14, Hodgson 1-1 0-0 2, Wilke 3-7 2-3 10, Stauffacher 2-7 10-10 15, Donaldson 3-8 3-3 9, Van Loo 4-7 0-2 8, Burchardt 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-44 18-22 65.

3-point goals — M 0-8 (Tostrud 0-1, E. Benzschawel 0-1, Hilliard 0-1, Updike 0-1, Mathiason 0-4); BD 7-16 (Schumann 3-6, Wilke 2-4, Jens 1-1, Stauffacher 1-3, Donaldson 0-1, Burchardt 0-1). Rebounds — M 9-16-25 (M. Benzschawel 5); BD 10-16-26 (Stauffacher 7). Assists — M 5 (E. Benzschawel 4); BD 11 (Schumann 5). Turnovers — M 16; BD 8. Steals — M 5 (E. Benzschawel 2); BD 8 (Schumann 2, Jens 2). Blocks — M 0, BD 0. Total fouls — M 15; BD 11. Fouled out — M. Benzschawel.

Bucky!

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