An improving Port Washington girls basketball team stuck with Cedarburg for much of the teams' contest on Dec. 13.

In the end, though, the Bulldogs turned up their defense and pulled out a tough 57-48 victory to improve to 3-0 in the North Shore Conference and 4-2 overall. Port fell to 2-2 in the conference and 3-6 overall.

"In the first half, Port made seven 3-point shots (five from Karley Lehtikangas)," coach Dave Ross said. "They were hitting most of their shots, and we had some defensive breakdowns."

The barrage of 3-pointers helped the Pirates to a 31-28 halftime advantage.

"We were able to put some pressure on them," Port coach Jake Wahl said.

Things changed in the second half, with the Bulldogs outscoring Port, 29-17, to take control.

"Our defense was strong," Ross said, "and offensively, we forced the issue on them. We went inside to Kalli Murphy a couple of times, and Morgan Wallace and Kennedy Ross both hit big 3-pointers. Once we got Kalli going inside, our outside game started to work, and we hit our shots."

Murphy finished with 19 points and made six steals, with Ross adding 10 points and three assists and Wallace contributing 8 points with four assists and four steals.

"In the second half, Cedarburg stepped up things defensively," Wahl said. "We have to learn how to handle the pressure from a good team in a close game. I was happy with our performance, though; it was a step in the right direction."

Lehtikangas totaled 15 points, all on 3-point shots, and pulled down eight rebounds. Amanda Baierl added 14 points and seven rebounds and Katie Lemkuil 7 points and four assists.

"I teach at Port and have seen those girls since fifth grade," coach Ross said, "and it's good to see the program come to life. They were more than competitive against us. Things are going in the right direction for them."

Cedarburg played in the Niki Doedens Tournament earlier this week and will take on Union Grove at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 29, at home.

Port met Homestead earlier this week and is off until Friday, Jan. 6, when it plays in a boys-girls doubleheader at Grafton.