Janesville Craig’s Whitney Oliver was in doubt about how many seconds were left in overtime. So she shot it—from deep in the corner.
Oliver’s high-arching three-pointer saw nothing but net as time ran out, giving Craig High a 40-38 victory over Sun Prairie (5-6, 4-5) in Big Eight girls basketball here Saturday afternoon.
A relieved Craig coach Mark Marsden said it was the shot that saved the season for the Cougars, who snapped a five-game losing streak as they improved to 4-5 in the conference and 5-7 overall.
“It would have been very tough to carry on had we lost today and extended our losing streak to six,” Marsden said. “Whitney has given us a chance to get back on to what I referred to earlier this week as the road to recovery.”
Oliver said she didn’t have time to think about her shot, which produced Craig’s ninth three-point goal in the game.
“I knew that’s not the play we wanted, but they trapped the ball up top. We got it to the wing, and then I got the pass in the corner,” she said. “I knew all that started with just nine seconds left, so I just put up the shot, and it went in.”
With 9.4 seconds left in overtime and Craig trailing 38-37, Marsden called a timeout.
“The play I called was to get the ball to our post,” he said. “We only needed two to win.”
Marsden said several players were responsible for creating an opportunity for Oliver to win the game.
“First of all, you have to give Amanda (Hamilton) a lot of credit. She escaped the trap on top after we failed to get it into the post,” he said.
“She got out of a trap, got the ball to the wing so we could get it to Whitney in the corner. Also, don’t forget the two big, big threes Amanda had in overtime.”
The Cougars were forced to start without their leading scorer, Anne Morgan, who was recovering from an illness.
“She’s still a little weak, but she came in, got some key rebounds and blocked a couple of shots,” Marsden said. “We played much better with her in there to help out our other post, Emily Hinman.”
Craig lost a 31-27 with 51.4 seconds left in regulation time. Sun Prairie’s Ashley Bartow then took control in overtime.
Bartow, a 6-foot sophomore, is the Big Eight’s third-leading scorer. She scored all seven of Sun Prairie’s overtime and led all scorers with 17, with Paige Albi added 12.
Hamilton and Oliver led Craig with 14 and 13, respectively.
“Bartow is just a great player,” Marsden said. “Paige Albi, their senior playmaker, is the league’s leading scorer, so I think we did well to just contain them.”
Shooting almost lost the game for Craig before winning it.
The Cougars heated up early with two three-pointers in the opening period to take a 10-9 lead, but they suffered through a long second quarter.
Craig’s made only one of 13 field-goal attempts for its only points of the period. As a result, the Cougars’ one-point lead after one quarter evaporated into a 16-12 advantage for Sun Prairie at the half.
Albi and Alison Lee each hit three-point goals in the third period to preserve Sun Prairie’s lead, but Oliver and Hamilton teamed up with a three each in the final quarter to force the overtime.
Despite the cold second period, Craig scored 27 of its 40 points from beyond the arc. Marsden said he was not particular how the points were scored.
“We have the shooters,” Marsden said. “That game-winner by Whitney looked a little long to me when it was coming down. But not to worry, I guess. That’s why she’s the shooter, and I’m the coach.”
CRAIG 40, SUN PRAIRIE 38 (OT)
Sun Prairie (38)—Bartow, 6-5-17; Albi, 3-5-12; Yentz, 2-0-4; Hoffman, 1-0-2; Lee, 1-0-3. Totals: 13-10-38.
Craig (40)—W. Oliver, 4-1-13; Hamilton, 5-0-14; Kennedy, 0-1-1; Marshick, 1-0-2; Hinman, 1-0-2; Morgan, 2-1-5; Storbakken, 1-0-3. Totals: 14-3-40.
Sun Prairie 9 7 8 7 7—38
Janesville Craig 10 2 7 12 9—40
Three-point goals—Sun Prairie 2 (Albi, Lee), Craig 9 (W. Oliver 4, Hamilton 4, Storbakken). Free throws missed—Sun Prairie 5, Craig 7. Total fouls—Sun Prairie 11, Craig 14. Fouled out—Morgan.
Sophomores—Craig 66, Sun Prairie 24. Craig scoring leaders: Emilie O’Donnell, 12; Maddie Philipps, 11; Grace Van Veldhuisen, 10.