Seeded third in the Walnut Grove Holiday Classic, the Verona Wildcats defeated Miller (66-61) and Billings (58-52) in the opening rounds to advance to the semifinals. There, the Wildcats met second-seeded Forsyth and fell 63-50 to the eventual tournament champions.

After a close first quarter, 13-10, the Panthers widened the gap to 10 points by the end of the half. They then led comfortably by the end of the third, 42-29.

Verona fought back with its best quarter yet in the final frame, hitting five three-pointers and matching the Panthers' scoring total, but the lead was too much to overcome by that point.

Juniors Kolton Pinkly and Caleb Hillhouse led the Wildcats with 21 and 12 points respectively in the loss. Eddie Guiterrez finished with eight points, while Dominic Fernandez added six and Anthony Martinez contributed two.

In the third place game, the Wildcats faced Pierce City, whom they had beaten 54-49 in the Eagles' own tournament. The fourth-seeded Eagles got their revenge this time around, defeating the Wildcats 58-42 to claim the third place trophy.

Pinkly and Hillhouse again led Verona, with 16 and 13 points, respectively. Gutierrez added five, while Fernandez and Martinez scored three each and Austin Valdez added two.

The boys opened play in the Miller Tournament on Wednesday against Jasper.

Lady Wildcats take seventh

Following an opening round loss to Omaha, Ark. in the Walnut Grove Girls Holiday Classic, the Verona Lady Wildcats won three straight to finish out the tournament and take seventh place.

The 10th seeded Verona team faced Morrisville the day after Christmas, winning 50-41, then defeated the Willard junior varsity team 57-51 to advance to the consolation championship.

Against Ava, the Lady Wildcats had their closes game of the tournament, eventually pulling off the 53-48 victory to end the tournament on a high note.

The team will compete this weekend in the Sparta Lady Classic before hosting Hurley on Tuesday of next week.