Cougar boys open with win
Basketball is a game of adjustments.
Some are made on the fly, while others need to be addressed during timeouts or halftime.
Janesville Craig boys coach Mike Miller waited until the halftime break to change the complexion of Tuesday's night's season-opener against Monroe.
Craig trailed by four at half, and Miller was not happy with the tempo at which his team was playing. He ordered them to push the ball even harder up the court to try and wear down the Cheesemakers.
The strategy worked as the Cougars went on a 7-0 run to start the second half and never looked back in a 69-61 win.
Behind 15 points from Nolan Maresch, and 14 each from Jerry Ngobi and Mike Murphy, the Cougars got out of the gate with a quality win against a Monroe team that will surely be in the thick of the Badger South Conference race.
“A lot of things we needed to adjust to were things we were doing, or more like not doing, especially rebounding,” Miller said. “Our goal was to continue pushing it because we felt like they were getting a little tired.
“But give credit to Monroe. I was nervous coming into this game because they're very physical and play such good defense. And a lot of our problems on offense were because of their defense.”
Craig led by seven after three quarters and kept Monroe at bay thanks to Maresch. The senior had 12 of his team-high 15 points in the fourth. His three-pointer with 3:42 left to play pushed the lead back to seven after the Cheesemakers had made a 7-2 run to cut the lead to four.
Kevin Noriega came off the bench for Monroe to lead all scorers with 21. The junior had the hot hand in the fourth with 11 points, but Monroe coach Pat Murphy felt like he should've had more.
“We don't always know where the offense is going to come from, and tonight it was Kevin's turn,” coach Murphy said. “But I really felt like he needed to get more touches, especially in the third quarter. I didn't think he got his hands on enough balls considering he was making shots.
“But we've got a lot of guys that haven't played in a varsity game before tonight, and I was really pleased with their effort. I thought both teams played especially hard.”
Both teams played well in spurts, but for the most part, it was a typical first game of the season. The teams were whistled for 50 fouls between them and there were 62 free throws shot.
“We were far from perfect,” Miller said, “but we'll iron some things out and get back to work Monday.”
Craig opens the Big Eight Conference season Tuesday night at Janesville Parker.
CRAIG 69, MONROE 61
Monroe (61)—Flannery, 0-0-0; Thompson, 0-5-5; Kind, 4-1-10; Helmeid, 2-5-9; Hirsbrunner, 1-4-6; Noriega, 8-3-21; Hendrickson, 2-0-4; Tordoff, 2-2-6. Totals: 19-20-61.
Craig (69)—Ngobi, 5-2-14; Maresch, 5-3-15; Murphy, 4-5-14; Carlson, 1-2-4; Morgan, 2-1-6; Smith, 0-2-2; Negus, 2-0-6; Payton, 1-2-4; Cox, 1-0-2; McCann, 0-2-2. Totals: 21-19-69.
Monroe 14 18 6 23—61
Janesville Craig 16 12 17 24—69
Three-point goals—Monroe 3 (Noriega 2, Kind), Craig 8 (Negus 2, Ngobi 2, Maresch 2, Murphy, Morgan). Free throws missed—Monroe 10, Craig 13. Total fouls—Monroe 24, Craig 26. Fouled out—Flannery, Hirsbrunner, Maresch.
Sophomores—Craig 47, Monroe 36. Craig leading scorer: Peter Larson, 11.