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March 11, 2014 | 04:06 PMThe Badger girls played a strong team and a weak team this weekend, and wound up somewhere in between.
On Friday night, No. 3 Badger defeated No. 6 Beloit Memorial (4-19 overall) 64-42 at Badger High School in the first round of the WIAA playoffs.
On Saturday night in round two, the girls lost to No. 2 Mukwonago (18-6 overall) 53-28.
"I'm very proud of our effort both nights," Badger head coach David Jooss said. "We weren't able to knock down as many shots against Mukwonago, and part of that is because they're very good defensively, and they're big and they adjusted to our shots. But in terms of playing back-to-back games and the effort that the girls gave, I mean, I was really proud of what we did."
Against Beloit Memorial, Maria Mieres-Rey led the Badgers with 16 points, Lily Quinn scored 10, Kortlyn Freeman had 9 and Brianna Flower contributed 8.
The girls started the game a little shaky — they were up 10-8 by the end of the first quarter and hesitated with the ball. Two Beloit students taunted the Badgers who shot from the free throw line, and may have caused a couple misses.
But the playoff nerves disappeared in the second quarter. Badger went on a 16-1 run in the first two and a half minutes of the period. The girls never gave up that lead.
The score was 31-16 at the half, and the girls stopped flinching at the taunts.
The Badger student section sat back comfortably with a double-digit lead while the Beloit fans shouted.Memorial just couldn't keep up.
The girls dominated the boards, and each rebound seemed to lead to a basket. They also generated several turnovers that led to layups. But Saturday was a different story.
Mukwonago had a significant height advantage on the Badger girls, which made it a tough team to defend.
"Anytime a team has that type of size, you just know you have to execute that much better defensively," Jooss said. "I thought overall in that game we did a pretty nice job."
Jooss said he thought the girls rebounded well despite the height difference, but they weren't able to hit shots when they needed them.
"Shots didn't fall for us, and I think in a game like that against Mukwonago, we'd have to shoot it and finish a little better to (defeat) somebody of that caliber," Jooss said.
Against Mukwonago, Bianca Brown lead with 9 points, Sam Tisa scored 5 and Jennifer Freeman, Mieres-Rey and Quinn each had 4.
Jooss said the toughest part of the loss was realizing that it was the last time the girls would play together as a team.
"Only five teams in the state end with a win," Jooss said. "Whenever that loss comes, it's emotional because, you know, that's the last time that team will compete together. Sometimes I think it's a good thing to see that emotion. It means that they care about it and that they're going to miss each other."
Jooss said that this year's team distinguished itself by embracing his defensive philosophy.
"I think that was the big reason for our success," Jooss said. "I've really enjoyed coaching this year's team."
Jooss said the girls played for each other
"That was a big part of why we were 17-7," Jooss said. "The kids were more interested in the team outcome than the individual outcome."
Next year, Badger's roster will be much different. Four seniors will graduate this spring, and Mieres-Rey, a junior, will return to Spain — she's a foreign exchange student who was here for one year.
Jooss said that in his five years of coaching at Badger, this year's 17-7 was the best record he's had.
"They're going to leave a really strong legacy, and the leadership that they had, and we'll see that in next year's players, too," Jooss said of the graduating seniors.
The girls took third place in the Southern Lakes Conference this year.
"We were predicted to finish fourth in the conference," Jooss said.
"I was proud that we were able to compete for that conference championship. The girls on the team developed friendships together that I think are going to last a long time. And I think just their team chemistry and how they got along made this season a lot of fun, and in the end it also made it successful."