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JANESVILLE — Playing with a short bench, Janesville’s girls basketball team saved up just enough energy to deliver a strong closing statement Thursday night in a top 10 battle of Class 1A schools.

Senior Lily Liekweg scored twice in transition and tallied Janesville’s final seven points over the last two minutes as the No. 7-ranked Wildcats ran past No. 6 AGWSR, 56-51, inside Janesville High School.

The lead changed hands eight times in the fourth quarter of this back-and-forth tussle. Liekweg recorded the final go-ahead bucket with a run-out layup after an AGWSR missed a shot inside. Bailey Hoff then recorded a steal and went back to Liekweg for a breakaway score with 1:54 remaining.

The visiting Cougars (6-3) managed just one point over the game’s final 2:54.

“It gives us some confidence and we know we can play with anybody,” Janesville coach Steve Chidester said. “I don’t think we trailed by more than two. That was a good stat for us to keep it where we could make a run on them and fortunately we did at the end.

“They took a lot of things away from us... We were trying to preserve what energy we had. In that gym it’s pretty hot.”

Janesville (9-1) was balanced on offense, patiently skip passing through AGWSR’s zone in attempt to find any opening. Alisa Bengen matched Liekweg with a team-high 13 points. Point guard Briana Baker-Bruce knocked down three 3-pointers and finished with 12, and Kennedy Rieken added 10 points.

Rieken picked up her fourth foul with 5:42 left in the third quarter, but a Janesville team that played with a six-player rotation kept pace with her on the bench. When she returned midway through the fourth quarter, Rieken knocked down a go-ahead 3-pointer on her first shot after the hiatus.

Janesville built a six-point first quarter lead before AGWSR took advantage of its size inside. Center Rachel Sicard scored eight of her 15 points in the second quarter to help the Cougars draw even twice. A 3-pointer by Grace Fisher then tied the halftime score at 27.

“We started dropping off a little bit on a couple of their players and front and back side (defending),” Chidester said, addressing an adjustment made to overcome AGWSR’s advantage inside.

Janesville took a four-point lead into the fourth quarter after Bengen drew contact and converted a traditional three-point play and Baker-Bruce added a jumper, but AGWSR rallied. Lead scorer Aubrie Fisher broke out of a slump in which she missed all 10 of her field goal attempts in the middle two quarters by knocking down back-to-back 3’s to give the Cougars a 44-42 lead early in the final stanza as part of her game-high 16 points.

The game remained a one-possession contest until Janesville’s closing flurry.

Janesville won’t have to wait long to play another ranked opponent. The Wildcats travel to No. 8 Clarksville on Tuesday.

Boys

JANESVILLE 70, AGWSR 44: Janesville jumped out to an early 10-point first quarter lead and extended its advantage to 20 late in the third quarter.

“I think that’s our best win so far,” Janesville coach Joe McKenna said. “It’s not just because of the score or the quality of the team we played, I just think that we came prepared out of break and were really focused on the game plan. The guys were ready.”

Codey Hicks led the Wildcats with 30 points on 13 of 16 shooting, while Joshua Hahn finished with 15 points and Caden Conrad added 11. Spencer Hoff set the tone for the team with five assists in the first quarter and continued to break down AGWSR’s defense with his passing ability throughout the night — including a feed to Hicks for a flashy dunk late in the third quarter.

“Everything we do offensively starts with Spencer Hoff,” McKenna said. “He didn’t make anything tonight (3 of 14 shooting), but he’s still responsible for 20 to 25 points because of the way he passes the ball. He sees the floor so well. ... Him being who he is makes us go.”

AGWSR finished on a wrong end of a 17-4 foul discrepancy. Alex Hames tallied 15 points and Luke Starr added 14 for a Cougars team that struggle to find openings against Janesville’s defense.

Summaries

Girls

AGWSR (6-3) — Alyssa Hames 5-10 1-1 11, Aubrie Fisher 6-25 0-0 16, MaKenna Kuper 2-6 0-2 4, Whitanie Nederhoff 0-1 0-0 0, Rachel Sicard 7-14 1-2 15, Grace Fisher 2-5 0-0 5, Natalie Lippert 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-61 2-5 51.

JANESVILLE (9-1) — Lily Liekweg 5-9 3-5 13, Bailey Hoff 3-7 0-0 6, Alisa Bengen 4-6 5-5 13, Kennedy Rieken 4-11 0-0 10, Briana Baker-Bruce 4-8 1-2 12, Gabby Gergen 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 21-42 9-12 56

AGWSR 14 13 9 15 — 51

Janesville 16 11 13 16 — 56

3-point goals—AGWSR 5 (A. Fisher 4, G. Fisher), Janesville 5 (Baker-Bruce 3, Rieken 2). Total fouls—AGWSR 14, Janesville 11. Fouled out—none.

Boys

AGWSR (7-2) — Josh Bartling 2-6 0-0 6, Alex Hames 5-12 2-2 15, Luke Starr 6-18 0-0 14, Tanner Weichere 3-5 0-0 6, Titan Opperman 0-0 0-0 0, Ben Macy 0-1 1-2 1, Chase Harms 1-2 0-0 2, Jaden Penning 0-1 0-0 0, Riley Sicard 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-45 3-4 44.

JANESVILLE (8-2) — Joshua Hahn 6-11 2-6 15, Caden Conrad 4-7 2-2 11, Codey Hicks 13-16 4-7 30, Spencer Hoff 3-14 0-0 7, Dawson Charley 1-2 0-1 3, Leo Dodd 0-0 0-0 0, Ben McGrath 0-1 0-0 0, Christian Mauer 1-2 0-0 3, Sam Seedorff 0-0 0-0 0, Joey Carlson 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 28-54 10-19 70.

AGWSR 12 9 15 8 — 44

Janesville 20 13 20 17 — 70

3-point goals — AGWSR 7 (Hames 3, Bartling 2, Starr 2), Janesville 4 (Hahn, Conrad, Hoff, Charley). Total fouls — AGWSR 17, Janesville 4. Fouled out — Opperman.

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Courier

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