Verona dug itself too big of a halftime hole to climb out at home against Janesville Craig on Saturday, Dec. 14, resulting in a 67-63 loss.

The Wildcats were coming off their first win of the season, a 59-56 road victory over Middleton on Thursday, Dec. 12.

Janesville Craig 67, Verona 63

The Wildcats (1-2, 1-2 Big Eight Conference) were paced by Haakon Anderson, who finished with team highs in points (16) and rebounds (9).

Verona’s Kolson Roddick added 15 points and five assists. Jacob Kisting scored eight points, while Adam Bekx chipped in seven points, six rebounds and three assists. Bennett Sherry also had seven points.

Craig’s Angelo Rizzo recorded game highs in points (27), rebounds (12) and steals (4). Caleb Scoville added 19 points and seven rebounds.

Verona 59, Middleton 56

No play defined the Wildcats’ win quite like Anderson’s putback off his own miss in the second half.

Blood rushed from Anderson’s head after he caught an inadvertent elbow on the play, and he left for the emergency room to get the wound stitched up.

The Wildcats survived a furious comeback by the Cardinals down the stretch without one of their best players.

“He’s our captain and leader,” Kisting said of Anderson. “He keeps us grounded every single day in practice. He’s probably the toughest guy I’ve ever met.”

Middleton chipped away at a double-digit deficit by ramping up its defense and going 10-for-15 from the free-throw line in the final 10:54.

Verona turned the ball over on six straight possessions during the Cardinals’ surge. Anderson knocked down a contested jumper with 8:52 left to stop a five-minute scoring drought. The Wildcats preserved their lead by going 11-for-16 from the charity stripe in the final 7:18.

Verona coach Eddie Singleton was encouraged by the way his team bounced back from a season-opening loss to Janesville Parker.

“We learned a lot from that first game,” Singleton said. “It was a challenge in one way, but in another way it was a gift because we were able to improve on all of our mistakes. I challenge the guys to get better and punch the clock every game.”

Middleton’s Cole Deptula drilled a 3-pointer to tie the at 56 with 58 seconds left. Kisting answered back with a strong drive for a layup to put Verona ahead with 30 seconds remaining.

“I had Kolson Roddick in the corner, and he attracts a lot of attention as a 3-point shooter,” Kisting said. “He held his guy in the corner, and that gave me a wide-open lane to the basket. That’s all a credit to him because he’s an amazing shooter. He was the real threat on that play.”

Bekx split a pair of free throws with 9 seconds left, and Logan Schultz’s potential game-tying 3 from the top of the key clanged off the back iron as time expired.

Middleton came up empty on its last three possessions. Verona’s players, on the other hand, showered Singleton with water when he entered the locker room postgame.

“I never actually thought that would happen to me,” Singleton said. “You see it in movies, but those guys were ready to dump it on me once I got in there. That was awesome.”

Roddick started the game with a 3, and Anderson made a pull-up jumper and a pair of free throws to give Verona an early 7-2 lead.

The Cardinals used an 8-1 run to take its only lead of the game, as the Wildcats went more than six minutes without a field goal.

Verona ended the first half on a 15-8 run to lead 23-16 at intermission. Kisting tied it at 10 with a layup, Malik Odetunde hit a floater off glass and a jumper, Bekx muscled his way for a bucket through contact, Cam McCorkle hustled for a transition layup, and Anderson sank three free throws.

The Wildcats came out of the break hot. Roddick sank a 3 and Anderson converted a three-point play in the first minute of the second half to push the lead to double digits (29-18).

McCorkle knocked down back-to-back 3s to increase the lead to 37-22 with 13:42 left.

Anderson paced the Wildcats with 13 points. McCorkle added 10 points, and Kisting and Roddick helped with eight apiece. Jonah Anderson and Bekx had six and five points, respectively.

Deptula scored 19 of his game-high 25 points in the second half. Parker Van Buren chipped in nine points for Middleton.