The Janesville Craig girls basketball team got tired of opponents coming from behind to win games.
So the Cougars closed out a game to close out the regular season.
They pulled away from Verona in the final seven minutes, using clutch free-throw shooting and a couple timely 3-pointers Saturday to beat the visiting Wildcats 56-48 on Bob Suter Court.
“I think we just kind of got sick of losing,” said Craig sophomore Hannah Dunlavy, who was one of four Cougars in double figures with 11 points. “We wanted it more than they did.”
Craig is 11-11 overall and 8-10 in the Big Eight Conference. Verona is 9-13 and 9-9.
After a cold-shooting first half, the teams traded the lead eight times and were tied four times early in the second half.
Craig got two free throws from sophomore Brooke Parkhurst with 6:53 remaining to take a 39-38 lead that it never gave back.
“We’re building momentum,” Craig coach Kerry Storbakken said. “They (Verona) were coming off a high after beating Sun Prairie, so it was good to beat a real solid team and program at home heading into the tournament.”
Craig went 24 of 28 from the free-throw line for the game and was 6 of 11 from beyond the arc in the second half.
Cougars sophomore Cassie Goswick had 12 points on four 3-pointers. Her third was with 6:15 left and her fourth came with 5:19 left. Both shots gave Craig a four-point cushion.
“I thought at the end of the game there, we were playing like seniors,” Storbakken said. “We played with poise, handled the ball and knocked down our free throws. That’s how you win close games.”
Kyiah Penn led Verona with 18 points.
Craig freshman Claudia Fieiras finished with 12 points, and junior Emily Pierson had 10.
Craig made just three baskets in the first half but was 10 of 12 at the line to hold an 18-17 lead.
The Cougars made all of their final eight free-throw attempts and led by as much as 11 in the final 90 seconds.
“Every practice we shoot like 40 or 50 free throws, and that definitely helped us in this game,” Dunlavy said.
Craig opens WIAA tournament play Friday at sixth-seeded Madison Memorial. The Cougars led the Spartans by 16 points on both regular-season meetings, but Memorial came back to win both times.
“This definitely gives us some momentum and confidence going into Memorial,” Dunlavy said.
CRAIG 56, VERONA 48
Verona (48)—B. Penn 1-0-3, Briggs 2-4-8, K. Penn 6-5-18, Bainbridge 2-1-5, Muehler 2-0-6, Rae 3-0-6, Pederson 1-0-2. Totals: 17-10-48.
Craig (56)—Pierson 2-4-10, Parkhurst 0-6-6, Elgas 2-1-5, Fieiras 2-6-12, Goswick 4-0-12, Dunlavy 2-7-11. Totals: 12-24-56.
Verona 17 31—48
Craig 18 38—56
3-point goals—Verona 4 (Muehler 2, B. Penn 1, K. Penn), Craig 8 (Goswick 4, Pierson 2, Fieiras). Free throws missed—Verona 9, Craig 4. Total fouls—Verona 21, Craig 17. Fouled out—B. Penn.