A spirited comeback fell short Friday night for Janesville Craig High’s girls basketball team.
Rayna Briggs’ three-point play with 25 seconds left lifted the visiting Verona Wildcats to a 47-44 Big Eight Conference win on Bob Suter Court.
Craig had two chances in the last 10 seconds to tie the game, but 3-point shots by Kate Huml and Rileigh Elgas rattled in and out.
The Cougars turned the ball over 23 times in the game and were just 5-of-29 from beyond the arc, but took a 44-43 lead with 1:50 to play on Emily Pierson’s 3-pointer. Briggs tied the game with 49 seconds left with a free throw before her three-point play won it.
Craig coach Kerry Storbakken said the turnover bug and poor shooting from the perimeter were the difference.
“Our defense kept us in the game, because our shots just weren’t falling,” Storbakken said. “We outrebounded them and played better defense, but when the ball doesn’t go in the basket, and you compound that with too many turnovers, it’s tough to win.
“And they’re quick, too, and that led to some turnovers, especially the first half. But we made adjustments, and I thought we did a better job of taking care of the ball the second half.”
Craig and Verona entered the night as two of the three remaining unbeatens in the Big Eight.
The Cougars (2-1, 2-1 Big Eight) opened up an early 6-3 lead, but the Wildcats (3-1, 3-0 Big Eight) responded with a 20-7 run to take a 23-13 lead with 6:04 to play in the half. The Cougars had 14 turnovers in the first half and were only 7 of 27 from the field.
Fortunately for Craig, Verona went the last 6:04 of the first half without scoring. The Wildcats led 23-20 at the break.
Craig eventually tied the game at 35-35 on Pierson’s free throw with 8:25 to play, but Verona responded with a 6-0 run to go up six. The Cougars got back-to-back 3s from Elgas and Claudia Fieiras to tie the game at 41-41 with 3:04 left.
“We had so many 3s that went in and out it seems, especially those two at the end of the game,” Storbakken said. “But like I told them afterward, sometimes the ball just doesn’t go in the basket.”
Elgas led Craig with 13 points, while Fieiras chipped in 10.
Briggs led all scorers with 15.
The Cougars host Sun Prairie on Thursday.
VERONA 47, CRAIG 44
Verona (47)—B. Penn 2-0-5; Briggs 6-3-15; Smith 2-4-9; K. Penn 3-0-6; Rae 3-0-6; Pederson 3-0-6. Totals: 19-7-47
Craig (44)—Pierson 3-1-9; Parkhurst 1-1-3; Elgas 5-2-13; Fieiras 3-3-10; Dunlavy 1-0-2; Gregg 1-0-2; Huml 1-2-5. Totals: 15-9-44
Verona 23 24—47
Janesville Craig 20 24—44
Three-point goals—Verona 2 (B. Penn, Smith), Craig 5 (Pierson 2, Elgas, Fieiras, Huml). Free throws missed—Verona 5, Craig 7. Total fouls—Verona 16, Craig 13. Fouled out—Smith