Senior guard Rayna Briggs had the ball in her hands and lined up a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the top of the key.

It wasn’t how Verona coach Angie Murphy drew up the final play with 19.6 seconds left and the Wildcats trailing by three in their season opener at Stoughton on Tuesday, Nov. 19, but sometimes a defense like the Vikings’ makes players improvise.

With Stoughton senior guard Myranda Kotlowski face-guarding her, Briggs rose to shoot a 3. Kotlowski deflected the ball and Verona freshman Abbi Rupnow scooped up the ball on the wing, but her 3-point attempt at the buzzer bounced off the rim as the Wildcats fell 46-43.

“I don’t think we moved the ball very well at the end of the game,” said Briggs, who scored a game-high 23 points. “We obviously have to move the ball more. We’ve only had one week of practice. We will get better as we go. I’m not too worried.”

Stoughton sophomore Mya Davidson, a transfer from Harlem (IL) High School, buried two free throws with 27.1 seconds left. She scored a team-high 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds off the bench to help the Vikings overcome an 11-point deficit in the second half.

Briggs was a thorn in the side of the Vikings with her outside shooting touch. She knocked down five 3-pointers.

“We adjusted how we guarded her,” Stoughton coach Brad Pickett said of Briggs. “We wanted her to put it on the floor more, step up and take a charge, or force her to kick it out and make someone else beat us.”

Briggs drilled two 3-pointers early in the second half to make it 36-25 Wildcats, but the Vikings responded with a 17-5 run to take the lead with 3:54 left.

Verona junior Katie Pederson scored on a putback to give the Wildcats a 43-42 lead with 1:47 to go, but Davidson scored in the post 17 seconds later to put the Vikings ahead for good.

Stoughton opened the game with a 17-4 run.

Verona caught fire late in the first half and closed on a 21-6 run to take a 25-23 lead at intermission. Briggs drilled two 3s and made a layup, and senior Rachel Parman knocked down a 3 to cut the Vikings’ lead to 23-22.

“In the first half, we were really working together,” Briggs said. “In the second half, we kind of got away from that.”

Verona had 13 of their 18 turnovers in the second half, and shot 47% from the free-throw line (8-for-17). Parman added seven points, and Pederson helped with five points and eight rebounds.

Verona 61, Janesville Parker 38

The Wildcats got off to a fast start in the first half and rolled to a Big Eight Conference home win over the Vikings on Saturday, Nov. 23.

Verona (1-1, 1-0 Big Eight) jumped out to a 10-point lead at the half. The Wildcats outscored the Vikings 33-20 in the second half.

Parman scored a game-high 17 points, and Briggs added 16 points. Freshman Megan Murphy pitched in 11 points, and sophomore Lexi Stremlow chipped in seven points.