Verona and Janesville Parker settled in defensively while trying to find a rhythm on offense early in the season and Big Eight Conference opener for both teams.
The Vikings used a big run at the end of the first half to jump ahead, then held on for a 70-60 road win over the Wildcats on Friday, Dec. 6.
Verona (0-1, 0-1 Big Eight) committed 35 total fouls in the game, and Parker went 24-for-45 from the free-throw line.
“I think it was just first-game jitters in the first half,” Wildcats coach Eddie Singleton said. “We want to pressure the ball and we’re pretty deep, so we’re not worried about our bench.”
Parker (1-0, 1-0) went on a 20-5 run to end the first half, as it took a 39-23 lead into halftime.
The Wildcats started the second half on a 14-2 run, but the Vikings answered with an 11-2 run to push their lead back into double digits (52-39) with a little more than nine minutes remaining.
Parker entered the bonus with 8 minutes left up 53-43, but its 13-for-26 performance from the charity stripe down the stretch opened the door for Verona.
The Wildcats used a 5-0 run to trim its deficit to 60-53 with 3:55 remaining. Haakon Anderson sank a baseline floater and converted a three-point play to cut it to 64-60 with 37 seconds left, but he fouled out 20 seconds later.
Singleton was proud of the way his team fought back, but pointed to Parker’s big run as the difference in the game.
“That was disappointing to me, and I let those guys know that should never happen,” he said. “I expected us to convert more down the stretch when they turned the ball over 10 times and missed free throws. But we’ll get it together. It’s still really early.”
Anderson scored Verona’s first six points, as showed off his versatility with a pull-up jumper, layup and a floater.
Verona’s returning leading scorer, Malik Odetunde, picked up his second foul just 3:30 into the game and sat for the remainder of the first half. Anderson committed his second foul with 5:42 left in the opening half, and James Rae picked up his third foul a little more than two minutes later.
Parker went 8-for-14 from the free-throw line after entering the bonus with 12:10 left in the first half and the game tied at 9. Verona entered the bonus a little more than two minutes later down 13-9, but was just 5-for-8 from the charity stripe.
Anderson finished with a game-high 22 points. Jacob Kisting scored 12 points off the bench, as he hit a pair of 3s and was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line. Kolson Roddick and Trevin Lieck helped with eight and six points off the bench, respectively. Odetunde was held to five points.
Parker had five players in double figures. Brenden Weis paced the Vikings with 15 points, Matthew Hartwig helped with 13, and Sam Bess chipped in 11. Robert DeLong and Brady Biba had 10 apiece.