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By dennis semrau
Sports Reporter 

Sauk Prairie girls split a pair

Eagles down River Valley, upended by Monona Grove


November 23, 2017

Sprecher Photography

Cam Ballweg and Sauk Prairie's girls basketball team defeated River Valley and fell to Monona Grove last week.

Missing nine straight long-range shots wasn't the way first-year coach Amber Fiene envisioned her Sauk Prairie girls' basketball team would open the 2017-18 season.

But Fiene's message to stay the course on offense - keep shooting the open 3 - and amp up the full-court pressure on defense proved to be an effective one-two punch.

Junior Taylor Breininger scored 12 of her game-high 14 points in the first half as Sauk Prairie cruised to an impressive 61-32 victory over visiting River Valley in a season-opening non-conference game last Tuesday.

"In our scrimmage, we kind of had the same type of thing," Fiene said. "We started off slow offensively. We did bounce back from that.

"So I told the girls, 'I don't care how many shots you miss, if you have an open shot I want you to take it.' We are defensive-minded. As long as our defense starts out strong, I'm feeling comfortable."

The Eagles missed their first 12 field goal attempts and were held to a lone free throw until Breininger's offensive rebound and putback of freshman Olivia Breunig's missed 3-pointer with 13 minutes, 29 seconds left in the first half.

"Taylor was driving and drawing fouls and then she got hot and got in a rhythm," Eagles' senior Hannah Schneider said. "Once she got comfortable in the game, we got going."

Breininger added a jumper less than a minute later for a 5-2 lead, and River Valley never got any closer the rest of the game.

"Being one of the older girls on the team, I wanted to help set the tone early," said Breininger, who finished with 5-of-9 shooting from the floor, four rebounds, two assists and one steal.

Breininger's first two field goals ignited a 16-3 surge capped by her two free throws with 7:23 remaining in the first half that staked Sauk Prairie to a 17-5 lead.

The Eagles were sparked by their tenacious full-court pressure defense that forced nine River Valley turnovers during the opening surge. Sauk Prairie finished with 23 steals and 25 deflections and forced the Blackhawks into 35 turnovers overall.

"I really like playing high intensity on defense which fires you up for the offensive game," junior guard Cam Ballweg said. "It all starts with our defense and tonight we did a lot better on defense than normally."

Ballweg, who is in her third varsity season, finished with eight points, a team-high 11 rebounds and eight steals.

"Her quickness and ability to stay in front of the ball is so crucial for our defense and sets up the success of the second and third row of the press. She works her tail off up there," Fiene said of Ballweg. "She's a crucial part of setting the tone right away when the ball comes up the floor."

River Valley closed within 27-18 at halftime. But Sauk Prairie went on an 18-4 run to grab its largest lead of the game at 59-26 with 6:30 left to play.

Sauk Prairie shot 31 percent (22 of 72) from the field, including 25 percent from 3-point range (10 of 40). The Eagles also had a 14-to-12, assist-to-turnover ratio.

Junior Riley Breunig finished with seven points seven rebounds, two steals and one assist, while freshman Olivia Breunig chipped in five points and seven rebounds.

Fiene, a 2008 graduate of Sauk Prairie, was pleased to be able to clear the bench with all 14 players seeing action in her debut as a head coach.

"I'm excited to have this first one under our belt," she said. "The girls needed something like this to even up the spirits and their belief in the system and to work even harder in practice."

Monona Grove 91, Sauk Prairie 57: Riley Breunig scored a team-high 18 points, but the host Eagles lost to the Silver Eagles in a Badger Conference crossover game last Friday night.

"Riley was able to get to the basket with ease. She did an awesome job of attacking the rim and finishing," coach Amber Fiene said of Breunig, who also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

But all-state junior 6-foot-1 guard McKenna Warnock scored 24 of her game-high 42 points in the second half after MG (1-1) took a 51-29 lead at the break.

"Defensively, Ella Schad did a great job on Warnock when she was in," Fiene said. "She played deny on her and held her under 10 points when guarding her.

"But when subbing to give Ella a break, we had a hard time finding another good matchup and then Warnock went off on us. She has great skills and is a real good passer, too."

Taylor Breininger chipped in with 11 points and four rebounds for Sauk Prairie (1-1), which was held to 15 percent shooting from three-point range (3 of 20) and 27.7 percent shooting overall (18 of 65).

Freshman Olivia Breunig added five points, three rebounds and a team-best three steals.

"It was good to show us that we have a lot of work ahead us," Fiene said. "MG was playing us tough and not allowing us many opportunities to shoot threes. We were getting to the rim and getting good looks but could not put the ball in the basket."

On deck: Following its Badger North Conference opener at Waunakee on Tuesday, Sauk Prairie will travel to Beloit Memorial for a non-conference game on Saturday at 5 p.m. The Eagles will then host Lake Mills in a non-conference game on Nov. 28 at 7:15 p.m.

Nov. 14

River Valley ................. 18 14 - 32

Sauk Prairie ................ 27 34 - 61

RIVER VALLEY - Jaylyn Eastlick 0 1-2 1, Sofie French 1 0-0 2, Tienna Gruber 3 3-5 9, Bailey Brown 1 0-0 2, Ali Hoffman 2 2-4 6, Emily Briehl 1 3-8 5, Riley Feiner 3 1-2 7. Totals 11 10-21 32.

SAUK PRAIRIE - Camryn Ballweg 4 0-0 8, Katie Mack 3 0-0 8, Naomi Breunig 3 0-0 8, Taylor Breininger 5 3-6 14, Riley Breunig 3 0-0 7, Olivia Breunig 2 0-0 5, Ella Schad 3 0-0 8, Cassi Miller 1 0-0 3. Totals 24 3-6 61.

3-point goals - RV 0, SP 10 (Katie Mack 2, Naomi Breunig 2, Taylor Breininger 1, Riley Breunig 1, Olivia Breunig 1, Ella Schad 2, Cassi Miller 1). Total fouls - RV 5, SP 22.

Nov. 17

Monona Grove ................ 51 40 - 91

Sauk Prairie .................. 29 28 - 57

MONONA GROVE - Warnock 15 10-13 42, Kellogg 2 1-2 6, Blang 1 1-2 3, Johnson 1 3-5 5, Larsh 3 0-0 8, Nelson 2 0-0 4, Dahlhauser 2 0-0 4, Gorton 5 1-2 14, Bruns 1 1-4 3, DeVault 1 0-0 2. Totals 33 17-29 91.

SAUK PRAIRIE - Camryn Ballweg 2 0-0 4, Riley Breunig 8 1-2 18, Naomi Breunig 3 2-2 8, Taylor Breininger 2 6-10 11, Olivia Breunig 2 0-0 5, Ella Schad 1 5-6 7, Cassi Miller 0 4-4 4. Totals 18 18-28 57.

3-point goals - MG 8 (Warnock 2, Kellogg 1, Larsh 2, Gorton 3), SP 3 (Riley Breunig 1, Taylor Breininger 1, Olivia Bruenig 1). Total fouls - MG 25, SP 23.


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