A young Verona girls basketball team is still learning to find ways to win.
The latest lesson came in a 46-38 Big Eight Conference home loss to Madison La Follette on Friday, Jan. 3.
“They just had more energy than we did,” said senior Rayna Briggs, who scored a team-high 18 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and swiped four steals. “When we got a basket, we were not as energetic and I think that starts with us seniors. We just needed more energy and it wasn’t there.”
Verona (4-7, 3-5 Big Eight) had 18 turnovers and was within three points four times in the final 3:30, but couldn’t get over the hump.
“The turnovers just killed us,” Verona assistant coach Reggie Patterson said.
Briggs was aggressive down the stretch driving to the basket and drawing fouls. She made 10 of 13 free throws. The WIldcats finished 19-for-31 from the charity stripe.
The Wildcats turned to a press in the second half to create a spark. Briggs knocked down two free throws to cut the Lancers’ lead to 37-35 with three minutes left. La Follette had 11 offensive rebounds in the game and they converted on a putback to extend the lead back to four.
Verona freshman Paige Lambe scored down low to slice the Lancers’ lead to 39-37. She finished with five points and seven rebounds.
“I think our press was pretty good because we were talking and applying that pressure that was needed,” Briggs said.
La Follette sophomore Mailia Green scored a team-high 15 points and the Lancers hit 4 of 6 free throws in the final minute to preserve the victory.
Verona also battled foul trouble throughout the game. Junior Katie Pederson, who scored six points and had 11 rebounds, fouled out with 4:19 left, and freshman guard Abbi Rupnow fouled out with 2:05 to go.
The Lancers jumped out to a 10-2 lead to begin the game, as Green scored five points during the surge.
“We can’t come out flat,” Patterson said. “I think we will come back at practice and get better at taking care of the ball and executing around the rim. We have to come out and be the first person to hit the other team in the mouth.”
The Wildcats battled back behind Briggs and Pederson. Briggs scored eight points and Pederson scored all six of her points in the first half to help the Wildcats cut the Lancers’ lead to 23-18 at intermission.