The Sun Prairie girls basketball team dug itself two big holes but could not dig themselves out fast enough resulting in a one-point loss to DeForest in Friday’s non-conference battle of state-ranked teams.
The visiting Cardinals, who entered play ranked No. 9 in the WisSports.net Division 1 coaches poll, trailed by nine twice in the second half, but the Norskies (No. 6 in Division 2) held on for a 56-55 victory.
“It was really a good basketball game,” Sun Prairie head coach John Olson said. “We did not quit, that’s what I saw at the end; a really key factor in a youthful team like this is not quitting.”
The more experienced Norskies (8-1) built leads of 40-31 and 52-43, only to see the younger Cardinals (6-2) rally back to within single possessions.
“They have eight seniors and at one point we had all three freshmen on the floor,” said Olson. “There’s a lot of positives and not a lot of negatives.”
DeForest took a 26-25 lead into the break following a nip-and-tuck first half. But the Norskies came out fast to begin the second half, with Grace Roth leading the way. The 6-foot junior forward scored seven of her team-high 14 points helping her team build a 37-31 advantage.
Morgan Hahn’s three-point play gave DeForest the biggest lead of the game, 40-31, with 11 minutes, 19 seconds remaining.
But the young Cardinals didn’t fold under the pressure. A 3-pointer by freshman Marie Outlay followed by junior Maddie Strey’s and-1 and sophomore Rachel Rademacher’s driving layup brought SP back within three points.
Free throws played a big role in Friday’s game, as the Norskies attempted 24 (making 15) while the Cardinals had just 13 attempts (making 7).
“There’s the difference,” said Olson of the free throws. “They didn’t make them all; we only lost by one point, so there you go.”
DeForest made 4-of-6 free throws during a one-minute stretch, again going up by nine, 52-43, with 4:22 remaining. And again, Sun Prairie rallied back.
A basket by freshman point guard Antionique Auston and a free throw by junior post Jazzanay Seymore brought the Cardinals back within 53-50 with just over 1:30 left. A free throw by senior Taylor Tschumper gave the Norskies a two-possession advantage.
Roth and Seymore traded baskets before Auston’s NBA-range 3-pointer at the buzzer set the final score.
The Cardinals didn’t take care of the ball, resulting in 20 turnovers.
“Turnovers comes with inexperience,” said Olson, referring to his team playing three freshmen and several other underclassmen. “We just need to be a little more patient.”
Auston led the Cardinals with 17 points, while Seymore (14) and Marie Outlay (10) also scored in double figures.
Besides Roth, DeForest also had Megan Mickelson (12) and Maggie Trautsch (11) score in double figures. Hahn finished the game with nine points.
The Norskies will be at home again this Friday. They will host Badger North Conference rival Mount Horeb at 7:15 p.m.
The Lady Norskies will hit the road on Jan. 7 to play three-time defending state champion Beaver Dam in a conference game at 7:15 p.m.