Stoughton's Plan B earns 'A' victory
JANESVILLE The Stoughton girls basketball team swiped a page from their boys team's playbook.
It helped the Vikings snare a victory away from Janesville Craig (10-9, 8-7 Big Eight) Tuesday night in the final minute of a nonconference game.
Trailing by one point as time ticked away, the Vikings' first play call failed to open up a shooter. On to Plan B, they found senior guard Tessa Mersberger at the top of the key and she buried 3-point shot from several feet outside the arc to stun the Cougars 57-55.
"These games hurt," Craig coach Kerry Storbakken said. "She (Mersberger) is a good player. We both hit shots, so give them some credit. They hit that last shot."
Mersberger, the leading scorer for Stoughton (12-8, 6-4 Badger South), had made just one basket before sinking the game-winner with 14.5 seconds left.
"She's our big shooter and she had been putting them a little bit long all night, so it actually worked out better that she was farther off," Stoughton coach Rami Hoaglin said. "We had two plays that we wanted them to do, and they ran them both to perfection. The backup plan is the one that hit it, and they've been wanting to run that play because the boys run something similar."
Mersberger provided the dagger in what was an exciting fourth quarter.
The two teams battled neck-and-neck through the first three before the Vikings went on a 13-4 run to open the final eight minutes of regulation.
Yet Craig erased a seven-point deficit in a matter of two minutes as senior Katie Villa sunk a 3-pointer, Maddie Philipps made good on a pair of free throws, and Alison Hughes' 3-ball found nothing but net to regain the lead with 46 seconds remaining.
"Our kids played hard," Storbakken said. "But we've got to play better defense, and we've got to rebound. If we shore that up, we'll be all right.
"We were down seven and we hit that shot to go ahead and played pretty good defense (on the final possession)."
That defense was good enough to stymie Stoughton's first plan of attack coming out of a timeout. But Mersberger had other ideas with Plan B.
The Cougars will attempt to erase the sting when they return to Big Eight play Thursday at home against Madison Memorial.
STOUGHTON 57, CRAIG 55
Stoughton (57)—Mersberger 2-0-6; Robson, 5-1-11; Gross, 3-0-7; Weum, 2-0-4; Schultz, 2-1-5; Dumas, 5-0-12; Hobson, 2-0-6; Gardner, 3-0-6. Totals: 24-2-57.
Craig (55)—Slatter, 1-0-2; Hughes, 4-0-9; Crandall, 7-6-23; Villa, 2-2-7; Calkins, 4-4-12; Philipps, 0-2-2. Totals: 18-12-55.
Stoughton 15 16 10 16—57
Janesville Craig 15 18 10 12—55
Three-point goals—Stoughton 5 (Dumas 2, Mersberger 2, Gross), Craig 5 (Crandall 3, Hughes, Villa). Free throws missed—Stoughton 1, Craig 2. Total fouls—Stoughton 15, Craig 10.