Janesville Craig’s girls basketball team thought it had a game stolen from it when it lost to Verona on Saturday.
The Cougars stole a road win right back six days later.
Junior Claudia Fieiras scored 22 points, and Craig knocked off host Sun Prairie 57-53 on Friday night, moving a half game ahead of the Cardinals into third place in the Big Eight Conference.
“This was our best team effort of the season, all around,” Cougars coach Kerry Storbakken said. “Claudia had her 22, but then we had (scorers with) 9, 9 and 8. Good balance, and I don’t think they scored the last four or five minutes down the stretch.”
Craig, which had lost its last three games at Sun Prairie by an average of 18 points, improved to 12-5 overall and 9-4 in league play. The Cardinals, who won the first meeting this season between the teams 54-48, fell to 9-7 and 8-4.
The teams were tied 30-30 at halftime and traded the lead several times throughout the second half.
The Cougars were without three-year starting forward Hannah Dunlavy (illness). Senior Rileigh Elgas helped spearhead a stingy zone defense, snaring a handful of steals in the second half alone.
“Rileigh was coming up with loose balls, steals, rebounds—every time it seemed like she would come out of there with the ball,” Storbakken said. “It was a good bounceback.
“Sometimes you get a feeling, where one of your teammates has been sick all week, and you just dig a little deeper. The effort was just outstanding.”
The Cougars suffered from a 9 of 22 night from the free-throw line, but Elgas hit a pair with just over 30 seconds left to make it a two-possession game, and Craig’s defense never faltered from there.
Elgas and senior Sarah Gregg each had nine points.
Jazzanay Seymore had 16 to lead Sun Prairie.
Craig plays at Madison La Follette on Thursday night.
CRAIG 57, SUN PRAIRIE 53Craig (57)—Gregg 3-0-9, Huml 3-0-8, Elgas 3-3-9, Fieiras 8-5-22, Goswick 2-1-5, Alderman 2-0-4. Totals: 21-9-57.
Sun Prairie (53)—Antony 1-0-2, Radlund 2-2-6, Rae 4-1-11, Strey 1-1-3, Outlay 0-1-1, Auston 4-4-14, Seymore 6-3-16. Totals: 18-12-53.
Janesville Craig 30 27—57
Sun Prairie 30 23—53
3-point goals—Craig 6 (Gregg 3, Huml 2, Fieiras), Sun Prairie 5 (Rae 2, Auston 2, Seymore). Free throws missed—Craig 13, Sun Prairie 10. Total fouls—Craig 19, Sun Prairie 22. Fouled out—Alderman, Auston.