Cougars roll into regional finals
JANESVILLE--Janesville Craig's boys basketball team continues to roll.
Lopsided final scores, however, are likely about to come to an end.
Senior forward Adam Anhold scored 18 points and the Cougars dominated the second half of a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal home game Friday night, running away with a 70-46 victory over Oconomowoc.
Sixth-seeded Craig (15-8) has won four straight games by an average of nearly 34 points per game. The Cougars will attempt to win a regional title Saturday night at third-seeded Middleton (17-6), a team that cruised past Kenosha Bradford on Friday and beat Craig twice during the Big Eight Conference season.
“We just weren't playing good defense (in the first half). We were letting guys get penetration and easy kick-outs for 3s,” Anhold said. “In the locker room we talked about staying in front of guys, limiting penetration … and getting easy shots on our end in the second half.”
The result was a second half in which the Cougars outscored the Raccoons 40-22 and turned a six-point halftime lead into a runaway win.
It helped that Craig caught fire from beyond the arc early in the second half. The Cougars hit four 3-pointers—two by senior Nick Lynch and one each by Jake Negus and Jack Blomgren—in a span of five possessions to grab a 42-29 lead and force a timeout with 14:12 remaining.
When Oconomowoc keyed on the outside shooters, Craig fed the ball in to Anhold. He finished a three-point play and then was fouled and made both free throws on the next possession, and the Raccoons burned another timeout down 49-32 with 11:20 to go.
“We were able to penetrate and get them to suck in, and that allowed us to get our feet set on some wide-open 3s,” Craig coach Mike Miller said. “And then Adam did a great job inside, offensively and defensively. It was pretty physical in there, but it was one of his better games.
“Defensively, part of our goal was to wear them down, and they weren't making the shots in the second half that they were in the first.”
Lynch and Negus scored 10 points apiece for the Cougars, who coasted the rest of the way.
There will likely be no such luxury tonight at Middleton.
The Cardinals beat Bradford by 44 points Friday and swept the regular-season series with Craig, winning 78-56 and 73-69. The second game was at Middleton on Jan. 28, and the Cougars led for most of it before first-team all-Big Eight guard Storm Murphy hit a key 3-pointer and the Cardinals grabbed the victory in the final few minutes.
“It's all defense,” Anhold said. “We've got to stop Storm or Tyree Eady. If we can stop one of those players, we have a good chance of winning. We just have to hold their penetration and hold their open shots.”
“We're just excited to play again,” Miller said. “We'll talk about playing hard and sharing the ball, like we have. When we share the ball, we're pretty good offensively. And when we play team defense, we're pretty good defensively. I think it'll be a great game.”
CRAIG 70, OCONOMOWOC 46
Oconomowoc (46)—Rams 1-0-2, Docter 2-0-6, Esveldt 4-0-9, Clayton 6-1-15, Helwig 2-0-6. Totals: 18-3-46.
Craig (70)—Payton 2-0-4, Lynch 4-0-10, Blomgren 3-0-7, Ngobi 3-1-7, Negus 3-2-10, Anhold 7-4-18, McCann 2-0-5, Malmanger 0-2-2, Badertscher 1-0-2, Christensen 1-0-3, Gestrich 1-0-2. Totals: 26-11-70.
Oconomowoc 24 22—46
Janesville Craig 30 40—70
Three-point goals—O 7 (Clayton 2, Helwig 2, Docter 2, Platter), C 7 (Lynch 2, Negus 2, Blomgren, McCann, Christensen). Free throws missed—O 4, C 1. Total fouls—O 15, C 15.