Drive through

Sophomore Jada Brunkow drove into the Rice Lake defense for the Golden Bears on Monday night, Jan. 21. Brunkow sank a pair of threes and scored 11 points in a 39-27 win over the Warriors. Click here for more photos.

A young Barron girls basketball team continued a recent string of much improved play, running a winning streak to four games after winning just once over the seasons’ first 11 games.

There isn’t one senior out for the team this season. Of the six girls who reached the scoring column during a 61-39 win over Chetek-Weyerhaeuser and then a 39-27 victory over Rice Lake, one is a junior, four are sophomores and one is a freshman.

“We have come a long way since the beginning of the season,” coach Mickey Hover said. “It has been a lot of fun watching these young ladies grow as a team.”

The Bears, now 4-5 in league play and 5-10 overall, will be tested mightily in a run of three straight road games. They will play Thursday, Jan. 24, at third place Northwestern (7-3, 12-3), before leaving Heart O’North play next week for games at St. Croix Falls (13-2) Tuesday and at Unity (10-3) Thursday.

Barron 61, C-W 39

Hosting Chetek-Weyerhaeuser (3-7, 4-12) on Tuesday, Jan. 15, the girls continued to feed sophomore Gracie Smith inside the paint, who continues to frustrate opponents with a nifty drop step move to the bucket.

Smith racked up seven first half field goals as the Bears established a 30-17 halftime lead and finished with a game high 21 points in a 61-39 victory.

Freshman Macey Herrman added six field goals and 13 points from the post, while sophomores Riley Stauner and Jada Brunkow finished with nine points apiece.

“We played very well on both ends of the floor against Chetek,” Hover said. “It was easily our best performance of the year.

“Offensively, we did a great job of moving the basketball and getting it inside to Macy and Gracie, who dominated in the paint.

“I really didn’t know what to expect with such a young team at the beginning of the year, but the last three or four weeks we have played really well and seem to be getting better with each game.”

The Bulldogs’ leading scorer, sophomore Maggie Timm, notched 11 points.

The Bears did have trouble at the free throw line, finishing 12 for 29 as a team. The ‘Dogs made 11 of 13 attempts, including a perfect eight for eight night by sophomore Madeleine Schofield.

Barron’s win avenged a 37-30 loss at Chetek on Dec. 4. The Bears also beat Ladysmith 32-27 on Jan. 10 after falling at Ladysmith in double overtime on Nov. 30.

Barron 39, Rice Lake 27

Rice Lake (3-12) was in town Monday night, Jan. 21, for a non-conference game that wasn’t played nearly as close as the 39-27 final score.

However, the score was tight through most of a low scoring first half. Stauner hit Herrman with a breakout pass for a 6-6 tie with 6:15 on the first half clock.

That play kick-started the Barron offense. Herrman completed an old fashioned three-point play for an 11-6 lead and then Brunkow ran the floor for a 13-6 advantage that had the Warriors calling timeout with 2:10 on the clock.

Still, Rice Lake couldn’t get on track. Stauner sank a jumper from the free throw line to go up 17-6 just before the first half expired.

The run continued in the second stanza, Brunkow drilling a three to go up 27-7 just before Herrman scored off an inbounds play to grow the lead to 17 points.

Rice Lake began to apply heavy pressure, and while that gave the Barron offense some fits, the Warriors could hardly buy a basket.

“Our defense was really good,” said Hover, who saw Herrman and Smith rack up double-digit blocks. “Our defense kept us in the game in the first five minutes, when we struggled to score, and it also created some easy baskets for us.”

The Warriors pulled within 31-16 with a 3-pointer by junior Emma Fitzgerald and then a drive by freshman Callie Karstens, but Barron’s lead was back to 21 points with just 2:35 to play after Herrman scored under the basket despite being fouled.

To their credit, the Warriors ended the game on an 11-2 run, but it was too little, way too late.

Herrman led the Bears with a dozen points, while Brunkow added 11. Grace Forsberg got hot late for the visitors, finishing with a team-high 10 points.