ASHWAUBENON (WLUK) -- Any time you get a second chance you want to make the most of it and that was the position the Hortonville girls basketball team was in Friday.
A year after losing in the state semifinal the Polar Bears were back at the Resch Center taking on top-seeded Beaver Dam.
A slow start put Hortonville in a 27-13 hole and it could never recover, despite a second-half rally as the Polar Bears' season ended with a 54-43 loss in a Division 2 state semifinal loss to the defending state champs.
"It was going to be a heavyweight fight," Hortonville coach Celeste Ratka said. "They were going to get their blows, we were going to get our blows. We were really prepared.
"Throughout our year we went through taking shots from other teams and getting up after taking those shots. We were relentless and we didn't quit and we just kept battling. It was one play at a time and that was their approach all the way through."
Sophomore Macy McGlone scored 13 of her 18 points in the second half as the No. 4 Polar Bears (20-7) trailed 27-17 at halftime. Then, Hortonville picked up its play in the second half, closing the gap to five points on two occasions, the last coming on two free throws from Shay Frederick to make it 39-34 with 10:09 to play.
Then the Golden Beavers (24-2) scored the next nine points to make it 48-34 and were never threatened again.
The loss didn't feel good but Frederick knew what her team accomplished the last two seasons was special. After a 30-year drought of missing the state tournament, Hortonville made back-to-back state trips.
"Not many teams get the opportunity to come back a second time so I'm just really proud of this team," said Frederick, who concluded her stellar career with nine points. "Like coach said, we came in here the underdogs, they went on a big run and we didn't back down.
"We didn't come in here fearing them, or, oh no, it's Beaver Dam. I'm so proud of how we came in. We worked our butts off all year and I think it showed. We were relentless. We just kept fighting and I'm proud of that."
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay