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Red Hawks roll past Cheese
Times photo: Anthony Wahl Monroes Taylor Barrett (54) scores in the lane during the second half of Monroes contest with Milton Friday night.
MONROE - Kylee Ritschard doesn't doubt that the Monroe girls basketball team will be a factor in deciding the Badger South Conference championship, even after the Cheesemakers lost to Milton 51-28 Friday night.

Monroe's opportunity to extend an unprecedented run of seven straight conference championships may be in jeopardy after the loss puts the Cheesemakers at 0-2 in the Badger South (4-4 overall) behind Milton and Madison Edgewood, who are both 4-0.

"We have to take it as a learning experience and keep our heads up," Ritschard. "We can still be a factor in the conference. There are still a lot of games to go in the conference."

It was a tough shooting night for Monroe as the Cheesemakers shot 2-for-24 in the first half and 20.8 percent in the game (10-for-48).

"It's one of those things where they got on a roll and it snowballed on us," Monroe coach Sam Mathiason said. "They (Milton) came out with a look in their eye that they were not going to lose this one."

The Red Hawks went on an 11-0 run to start the first quarter. Milton senior Liz Eide scored seven consecutive points during the spurt to spark the Red Hawks. The Red Hawks held the Cheesemakers scoreless for almost five minutes. Monroe senior Kyleigh Sellnow broke the cold spell when she drove in and drilled a jumper with 3 minutes, 5 seconds to go in the first quarter. Milton senior Ashley Roherty knocked down a 3-pointer to help her team take a 16-2 first quarter lead.

The Red Hawks shot 47.8 percent in the first half (11-for-23).

Milton sophomore Morgan Blumer and junior Brooke Negus each hit 3-pointers in the second quarter to give the Red Hawks a commanding 22-5 lead. Eide scored nine of her 14 points in the first half and the Red Hawks built a 27-6 halftime lead.

Ritschard, who scored 13 points and had six rebounds to lead the Cheesemakers, said it felt like there was a lid on the basket.

"It was really frustrating," Ritschard said. "We tried our best and kept our head up. We had to get some points. We had to find a way to score."

Mathiason said the Cheesemakers' shooting and defensive play both play off each other when a team struggles.

"There were several times where we had two hands up in their face and they still made 3-pointers," he said. "A basketball game is a game of momentum and they got on a roll."

The second half started a lot like the first half ended. Eide opened the third quarter drilling a 3-pointer and Blumer hit a jumper to give the Red Hawks their largest lead of 26 points, 32-6. The Cheesemakers made a run when senior Kristin McArdle scored on an offensive rebound and Ritschard grabbed another offensive rebound and was fouled as she scored on a putback. Ritschard converted the three-point play by hitting the free throw to trim the Red Hawks' lead to 38-23 with 36.1 seconds left in the third quarter.

"We came out in the second half and we obviously knew we couldn't play the same way we did in the first half because that didn't work," she said. "We knew we had to pick up our intensity, lock up on defense and keep our heads up."

The Red Hawks answered with Negus knocking down a 3-pointer and senior Ashton Stair scoring at the end of the period to give Milton a 43-23 lead. Sellnow added seven points for the Cheesemakers.

Mathiason said the Cheesemakers just couldn't get enough defensive stops and deflections to make a consistent run. Mathiason remains confident and is anxious to prepare for two conference games next week at Stoughton Jan. 11 and at home against Monona Grove Jan. 15.

"I think we can still be a factor," he said of the conference race. "We played the top two teams in our first two games. We still have another game against both of them. We have to look to see if we take this in a positive or negative way. We have to get ready for Stoughton and MG."