BRODHEAD, Wis. -It might have been a little early to call Friday night's contest at Brodhead a statement game.
But the Big Foot girls basketball team surely made some loud declarations with a dominating 67-40 victory over the Cardinals.
The Chiefs' pressure defense forced 36 Brodhead turnovers and after hanging with Big Foot early, the Cardinals surrendered a game-changing 22-2 run late in the first half to remove all doubt from the outcome.
Big Foot, who enters the season as one of the favorites to compete for a Rock Valley Conference title, was led by sophomore Reagan Courier, who poured in 26 points.
Big Foot coach Rick Schoenbeck said he liked his team's ability to pull away.
"We got a lot of different girls playing time tonight," Schoenbeck said. "We aren't where we want to be yet on defense, but you could see when we extended pressure it was effective. It takes time to play a defense like that. We've only had 10 days of practice. We battled through some foul trouble, like we did against Milton. We know what we need to work on and we'll do that."
The game started with a 7-0 run by the Chiefs. After Brodhead battled back behind senior Erin Nyhus to tie the game at 9-9, the Chiefs scored 22 of the next 24 points and opened up a 37-19 lead at halftime. The Cardinals never mounted a serious charge and fell to 1-1 on the season.
Courier was the game's standout player, sinking three three-pointers and finishing around the basket with either hand. Schoenbeck said Courier's improvement from last season, when she had a solid freshman campaign, was apparent.
"She's gotten a lot stronger from last year," Schoenbeck said. "She's fast, and she has an extra girl that most girls don't. We get a lot of good outlet passes and she runs the floor very well. She also spreads the floor for us, and she was hitting her outside shots tonight. When you have an inside-outside game, that really helps."
Courier said the win was a nice bounce-back after a close loss at Milton to begin the season.
"I thought we worked together really well and we pressured well defensively," Courier said. "It was a good start for us. Our goal is definitely to win the conference, so this was a big win."
Nyhus scored 21 of Brodhead's 40 points, with no other Cardinal scoring more than 4 points.
Brodhead coach Brian Kammerer said his team has a long way to go.
"I thought we panicked and really rushed some things offensively," Kammerer said. "We turned it over about twice as much as we should have. We talked in practice about getting shots up and not turning it over, because when you turn it over like we did tonight, it doesn't give us a chance to win. So we've got to work on taking care of the ball and rebounding, too. We could feel sorry for ourselves, or we could move on and get better."
Nyhus' performance was a true bright spot in an otherwise cloudy performance.
"She has a great motor," Kammerer said. "She's one of those kids that's great to coach. She busts her tail out there. Without her tonight, I'd have hated to see the outcome. We were missing one starter with an illness, and another went out with a head injury, but Erin just kept us going."
Brodhead travels to 1-0 Clinton Tuesday, while the Chiefs will play at East Troy.