Finley Deischer doesn’t want to waste any time this summer. He’s looking at every time he steps on the court as a chance to improve his game.

Deischer helped lead the Verona boys basketball team to a 3-1 record at the Cardinal Classic Tournament on Saturday, June 25, at Middleton High School.

“We had a senior dominated team last year,” Deischer said. “It’s up to this year’s seniors to be the leaders.”

Deischer said the tournaments and summer league are about building chemistry with new faces to get a jump-start on next season.

“It’s important to get all of the kinks and rust out now before the winter so we can start out on the right foot,” he said. “We have to get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Deischer played a role off the bench last year. He’s expecting to carry a heavier load next season at point guard. He’s one of six seniors expected to lead a young team.

“I think this summer is about opportunities, learning and growing,” said Verona coach Reggie Patterson, who accepted a social studies teaching position at Edgewood High School, but will still serve as the head coach for the Wildcats. “We are not caught up with our wins and losses this summer. We are caught up with what we have to do to get better. We are going to be young, but very talented.”

Patterson said at times next season, the Wildcats could have three sophomores on the court with two seniors.

“They have to grow up and learn to be vocal and communicate with teammates on defense,” Patterson said.

Cardinal Classic

Verona went 3-1 in the tournament and in one of the closest games pulled out a 48-47 win over Sussex Hamilton. Senior Gavin Farrell made a no-look pass to senior Kaden Kittleson, who scored the game-winning basket with about 30 seconds left.

“Gavin has been working really hard on driving downhill and making plays,” Patterson said.

Sussex Hamilton played a pressure full court defense most of the game.

Patterson credited Deischer for his ball handling prowess.

“The defender from Sussex Hamilton was riding Finley down the court the whole game,” Patterson said. “Finley had the stamina to come out and play full court. The last three minutes we picked them up full court and Finley created some chaos.”

Sussex Hamilton dribbled the clock down and a 3-point attempt went awry late.

In the second game of the tournament, Verona rolled by Cuba City. The Wildcats then knocked off Madison Edgewood. In bracket play of one eight-minute quarter, La Crosse Central topped Verona 25-10.

La Crosse Central hit three 3-pointers early on.

“They didn’t miss a shot,” Patterson said.

Summer league

Verona is playing in a summer league that rotates between Middleton and Verona Area High School.

Verona sophomore Drew Murphy hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 48 seconds left to propel the Wildcats to a 48-45 win over Janesville Parker on Tuesday, June 21, at Verona Area High School.

Murphy said the summer league is more about getting an opportunity to play with new teammates.

Murphy said he’s been shooting 200 to 300 shots a day. Murphy is also playing AAU with Phenom University-Team Herro 15U EYBL.

“I think it’s important to get to know each other’s playing style,” he said. “We have to learn each other’s strengths and games.”

Dubuque Senior then pulled away in the second half to hand Verona a 49-36 loss.

In the final summer league game on June 21, Verona lost to Janesville Craig, who scored on a layup at the buzzer to clip the Wildcats 48-46.

“I know everyone will give it their all in all of our games,” Deischer said. “Whether you win or lose, that's what it’s all about.”

The areas Patterson wants to see improvement are on defense and physical play.

“We have to be a more physical team throughout the game from the start to the finish,” he said. “We will switch up our defenses this year. We will have a lot of athleticism on the floor.”

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