After his team's game on March 2, Cedarburg girls coach Dave Ross can identify with the opponents of the UConn women's basketball team this season.
Ross was left with a "what else could we have done?" feeling after seeing the Bulldogs' season end with a 76-50 loss at the hands of unbeaten, top-ranked Beaver Dam in a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal game at Hartford High School.
Just like the UConn women's team, which is on an incredible 104-game winning streak, the Golden Beavers looked almost unbeatable in improving to 25-0 in a season that has seen them win every game by no fewer than 13 points.
"After the game, I talked with (Beaver Dam coach) Tim Chase, and I told him, honestly, this is the best team we have ever faced in our state," Ross said. "Beaver Dam brings it, and brings it, and brings it, and they're able to rotate about nine or 10 kids, and eight of them can shoot. That makes it very, very difficult.
"They (the Golden Beavers) are just by far the class in Division 2. They are a nightmare of a matchup. They're big, they're fast, they can go inside and outside, and it's not one person inside or outside; it's multiple players. We're probably a top-10 team, but they (the Golden Beavers) are by themselves. They are the UConn of Division 2, and maybe Division 1."
Beaver Dam coach Chase said one of his team's many strengths is versatility.
"We can score in a lot of different ways," Chase said. "We've got good size inside, we've got kids who can shoot 3-pointers, we've got good ballhandlers, we can cause turnovers with our defense. We do a lot of things well."
Actually, the Bulldogs stayed with the Beavers for the early part of the game, going on a 7-0 run to take an 8-5 lead. They were still up 10-8 on two free throws by Abby Belschner before 3-point field goals by Beaver Dam's Paige Schumann and Tara Stauffacher made it 14-10.
Belschner, a sophomore who drove the lane repeatedly to score eight early points, then connected on a shot to trim it to 14-12.
"We knew the only way that we could stay with them is if we didn't shoot a lot of threes at the beginning, so they would get long rebounds," Ross said.
Beaver Dam, though, then went on a 22-3 run with scoring from six different players. Cassidy Trotter tallied seven during that burst, with Kara Crowley adding five and Aly Van Loo, a 6-foot, 4-inch sophomore, chipping in with four points.
The run, which gave the Beavers a 36-15 advantage, started with a 3-pointer from Maryn Ferron and ended with a 3-pointer from Trotter, who finished as the game's top scorer with 23 points.
Cedarburg's only points in that span came on a three-point play by Kalli Murphy, who totaled a team-high 16 points.
"Beaver Dam went on one of those runs that could not happen in the game," Ross said. "Before the game, I said they could not have a 16-2 run."
Those types of runs are precisely what fuel the Beaver Dam machine.
"That's who we are," Chase said. "We've been a team of runs all year. We try to keep the pace going. It could happen at some point in the first half or some point in the second half. We've just got a talented group of kids that we can keep on rotating in and out."
Later, the Beavers added a 9-2 burst en route to a 47-22 halftime lead.
"We got away from a couple of (defensive) principles that really hurt us," Ross said. "Instead of being down 25, it should have been about 10, and I would have been very happy at that point. We forgot a couple of assignments, and it was costly. It was unforced errors that really hurt us, but it really didn't matter, because Beaver Dam was by far the better team."
Second half even
The Bulldogs never came closer than 21 points in the second half and trailed by as many as 35, but they actually played the Beavers evenly in the half, being outscored only 29-28.
Just to show the Beavers' depth, Alexa Brooks came off the bench in the second half and nailed three straight 3-point shots.
Schumann tallied 11 points, Crowley 10 points and Brooks nine for Beaver Dam, which had nine girls score and racked up 11 3-point shots from five different players.
Belschner finished with 12 points and Kennedy Ross nine for the Bulldogs, who wound up at 18-7.
"I was proud of our girls for the season they had," coach Ross said.