A trio of Verona juniors were recognized Tuesday evening between the girls and boys varsity games against Hurley. Twilah Carrasquillo, Caleb Hillhouse and Kolton Pinkly were each presented with a signed basketball commemorating their achievement of reaching the 1,000 career points milestone in recent weeks.

Each of the players reached the milestone as their teams played in tournaments, away from their home court where they could be recognized. Carrasquillo reached 1,000 on December 26 in the Walnut Grove Holiday Classic, followed by Hillhouse who reached the milestone the next day. Pinkly's 1,000th point came during the Miller tournament last Saturday.

The three were presented with basketballs signed by their coaches and teammates in recognition of their outstanding achievements between varsity games on an exciting night of basketball for Verona.

Girls roll to win

In the first varsity game of the night, the Lady Wildcats won comfortably over the Lady Tigers by a final score of 63-47.

A close first quarter ended 11-9 in the home team's favor, but Verona jumped out to a double-digit lead by the end of the half, thanks in part to four three-pointers by Carolina Castillo.

The Lady Tigers matched Verona's points in the third quarter but could not overcome the lead from the first half, and the Lady Wildcats hung on easily for their seventh win of the season.

Twilah Carrasquillo led the home team with 21 points on the night, while Castillo added 18. Also in double-digits was Rita Castillo with 15, while Paige Bauer added seven and Sydney Gamroth scored two.

The girls will host McAuley Catholic on Friday, as part of another girls/boys varsity double-header.

Boys inches from game-winner

High school basketball can be a game of inches, the Verona Wildcats found out Tuesday, as a last-second Hail Mary shot by Kolton Pinkly rattled the rim and the backboard but didn't fall, leaving the Wildcats with a 73-71 loss to Hurley.

The game was a tight contest from the very beginning, as Verona trailed by a couple points for much of the first quarter but ended the period up 20-19. The second quarter was just as close, and the teams went to the locker rooms at halftime with the score 41-40 in the Tigers' favor.

If the difference in the game wasn't the plethora of first half turnovers by the Wildcats, it may have been the first two minutes of the second quarter, when the home team pulled down offensive rebound after offensive rebound but could not get a shot to fall. In the meantime, Hurley took the biggest lead by either team at that point in the night, 46-40.

The Wildcats turned it around to lead 56-52 by the start of the final quarter and led by as many as nine points with around four minutes to go. But the Tigers battled back to tie it up at the 2:55 mark, and the game remained close until the final buzzer.

With the game tied at 71, a pair of missed free throws by Verona in the final eight seconds gave Hurley the chance to take the lead on its own free throw line. The Tiger shooter made both, and Verona head coach Brad Stewart called a timeout to set up his team's final chance at winning with 4.7 seconds on the clock.

The play appeared to work to perfection, as Pinkly managed to get off a clean shot from just beyond the half-court line, but the ball refused to go in the hoop and the devastated Wildcats took their fifth loss of the season.

Caleb Hillhouse led the Wildcats with 25 points on the night, while Eddie Gutierrez added 17 and Pinkly finished with 13. Anthony Martinez contributed nine points, while Austin Valdez scored five and Chris Werner added two.

The Wildcats will play McAuley Catholic on Friday, hosting the Ozark 7 Conference opponents along with the girls team.