The season is officially past its midpoint for the Badger girls basketball team (9-6). Their match-up with Waterford on Jan. 19 was the start of the second lap through the Southern Lakes Conference slate, and with a 4-3 record in the first trip through, head coach David Jooss was optimistic about the second chances.
“I think the conference is more evenly matched than the records show,” Jooss said. “I’m looking forward to the second time through the conference, so I’m hoping we can get on a roll.”
The team took their first step toward getting on a roll against the Wolverines (4-11), picking up a 51-45 win at home.
In the opening minutes, the Badgers were able to start hot, jumping out to an 8-3 lead. Waterford quickly responded by making shots on their next two possessions to tie it at eight with 15 minutes left in the half.
For the next 10 minutes, the two teams swapped leads and ties, neither one getting more than a bucket ahead of the other, until Badger was able to get a five-point lead with a minute remaining. Undeterred, Waterford scored six straight to take a 25-24 lead heading into the break.
Again, the Badgers came out of the gates hot, and they were able to build up a lead and maintain it through the early stages of the second half, leading 42-34 with just over seven minutes remaining in the contest.
Waterford, who had been held in check to that point, was able to break out, going on a 9-0 run to take a 43-42 lead just a few minutes later, forcing Jooss to call a timeout to get his team back on the same page.
The timeout worked, and the Badgers settled down, taking a 44-43 lead 30 seconds later. A few more baskets put the score at 48-43, and from there the Wolverines began fouling Badgers to send them to the free-throw line. While the team wasn’t perfect from the line, they got the job done, outscoring the Wolverines 3-2 in the game’s waning minutes to seal the 51-45 victory.
A key to the victory was solid post play, as the Badgers were able to score down low and force Waterford’s better defenders off the court.
“I think we had a little bit of an advantage inside, and we were able to stay with it and get the ball in there. We were able to get into their bench a little bit, got them in foul trouble, that was probably one of the biggest things we were trying to do,” Jooss said.
That advantage was easy to see in the scorebook, as senior forward Courtney Oomens and junior forward Jada Moss led the Badgers with 14 and 12 points respectively. As the Wolverines’ defense wore down, the pair got better, each scoring eight points in the second half.
The win was an important one for a Badger team that got caught in a rough patch prior to this week. Badger started the year 6-0, but went 2-6 in late December and early January, including losses to some of the top teams in the SLC. To win, especially when the team wasn’t perfect, is a good way to build some confidence heading into the season’s home stretch.
“This definitely wasn’t a pretty win. We turned it over more than we should have, we missed some shots we normally make,” Jooss said. “But that’s a part of it, you’ve got to find a way to win anyways. There’s going to be games where you don’t shoot well or shots aren’t falling. You still need to rebound, you still need to defend, and so today we were able to do that.”