Janesville Craig’s girls basketball team feels like it could still be undefeated right now.
Instead, after a second straight narrow defeat, the Cougars—who have spent the first couple weeks of the season close to home—will head out on the road with a .500 record.
Sun Prairie senior point guard Grace Hilber scored 10 of her game-high 25 points in overtime, including going 6-for-6 from the free-throw line, to help the Cardinals fend off the host Cougars 61-57 in a Big Eight Conference game.
“We’ve got to finish these games; really, we should be 4-0,” Craig coach Kerry Storbakken said. “We had this bugaboo last year, where we couldn’t finish when we had leads.
“We’re going to be in a lot of close games, and we’ve got to finish—take care of the ball at the end and get good shots.”
The overtime loss came six days after Craig (2-2) coughed up a lead in the final minutes of a three-point home loss to Verona.
On Thursday, it was Hilber who took over and did the damage for Sun Prairie (3-1).
After Craig whittled about a minute off the clock nearing the end of regulation, Hilber scooped up a turnover and drove the length of the floor to give the Cardinals a one-point lead with 53 seconds left.
Craig eventually snagged a turnover of its own, and senior Hannah Dunlavy made 1 of 2 free throws with 4.1 seconds left to send the game to overtime tied 50-50. The game was also tied 29-29 at halftime, though Craig led by as many as eight points with seven minutes left in the second half.
With the game tied at 53 in overtime and less than a minute to go, Hilber once again snatched up a Cougars turnover—they finished with 21—drove the floor and pulled up for the go-ahead basket.
After Craig’s final turnover of the night, Hilber made both ends of a one-and-one situation at the free-throw line. And though Craig twice cut the deficit back to two points, Hilber was perfect from the line to preserve the lead until the final horn.
“She took advantage,” Storbakken said of Hilber. “She was the one kid on the floor that really wanted the ball, for either team. She was a senior and she stepped up.”
Sophomore Jazzanay Seymore scored nine of her 12 points in the first half as the only other Cardinals player in double figures.
Sophomore Claudia Fieiras led the Cougars with 15 points, while junior Rileigh Elgas added 13 for the second straight game and Emily Pierson had 11.
On top of the turnovers, Craig was just 14 of 24 from the line.
“We had an eight-point lead, then we had a five-point lead that we gave away in two possessions, and some of those turnovers were right at halfcourt,” Storbakken said. “Then 10 missed free throws.
“We’ve just got to learn from it.”
Craig plays at Madison La Follette on Saturday night.
SUN PRAIRIE 61, CRAIG 57 (OT)
Sun Prairie (61)—Hilber 8-7-25, Lutes 4-0-9, Rae 1-0-2, Baker 4-0-9, Strey 0-2-2, Seymore 5-2-12, Kostelnik 1-0-2. Totals: 23-11-61.
Craig (57)—Gregg 1-1-4, Huml 1-1-3, Pierson 3-4-11, Parkhurst 2-0-4, Elgas 5-3-13, Fieiras 6-2-15, Dunlavy 2-3-7. Totals: 20-14-57.
Sun Prairie 29 21 11—61
Janesville Craig 29 21 7—57
3-point goals—Sun Prairie 4 (Hilber 2, Lutes, Baker), Craig 3 (Gregg, Pierson, Fieiras). Free throws missed—Sun Prairie 4, Craig 10. Total fouls—Sun Prairie 18, Craig 18.