Verona boys polishing play style

Saturday, January 15, 2022
Jacob Stellwagen puts up a shot in Thursday’s loss to Southwest. Kyle Troutman/editor@monett-times.com

Wildcats fall by 2 in thriller with Southwest

A last-second shot bouncing off the rim made the difference on Thursday for Verona in a 65-63 loss to Southwest, but the Wildcats are not letting the game linger.

Brad Stewart, Verona boys basketball coach, said the Wildcats (9-7) played three good quarters on the road, but a lackluster third let the Trojans back in the game. Verona led by 7 at the break, but were outscored by 13 in the third to go down by 6 to start the final frame.

Jaiden Carrasquillo is fouled as he shoots in Thursday’s game against Southwest. Kyle Troutman/editor@monett-times.com

“We played an outstanding three quarters, but that third was enough to swing the game, and in the fourth, either team could have won,” he said. “This is the second game in a row we’ve missed a last-second shot, and the one at Southwest wasn’t as good a shot as the one we had against Galena.”

Stewart said although his boys came out on the wrong side this time, games between the Wildcats and Trojans are always highly anticipated.

“Both teams look forward to these games, and this was like our last hurrah against one another this season,” Stewart said. “The game lived up to its billing, and the fans definitely enjoyed it.”

Jacob Stellwagen led Verona with 26 points, and Jaiden Carrasquillo added 25. Against Galena, Carrasquillo put up 31, and Stellwagen scored 11.

Stewart sad the pair have been the leaders scoring-wise this season.

“Jaiden and Jake have led us in scoring for the last two years, and we count on them a lot,” he said. “But, we have several guys that can score.”

The Wildcats now turn their attention to conference play, which began on Thursday against McAuley Catholic. The result of that game was not available at presstime.

Verona faces Billings and Purdy before the next conference game, a meeting with favorite College Heights Christian (10-2).

“Like everyone else, we are 0-0,” Stewart said. “We understand there are some outstanding teams in our conference, but if we play at our top level, we’re pretty outstanding ourselves. We’re on a skid right now and learned some painful lessons, but I think we will grow out of it. Until someone proves us different, we will try to win the conference, and if they can prove us different, good for them.”

Verona has lost five of its last seven games after starting the season at 7-2, and Stewart said he hopes to see the team get back to winning ways.

“We have to get more outside shots in space,” he said. “Andrew Martinez and Westin Shrum gave us some 3-pointers Thursday, and we need to get more of those. Our MO right now is having one bad quarter, and I think that can get fixed.”

Verona hits the road on Tuesday to face Billings, then returns home on Friday for a Homecoming tilt with Purdy.

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