Clements fuels West's victory over Craig
JANESVILLE--Malik Clements shifted his focus at halftime.
Madison West’s 6-foot-3 forward couldn’t get his jump shot to fall in the first half, so he spent the second attacking the rim.
Clements scored 24 of his game-high 35 points after the break, and the Regents handed the Janesville Craig boys basketball team its first loss of the season, 53-46, at Craig on Friday night.
“Coach (Keith Stewart) just told me at halftime that I need to be more aggressive and stop taking stupid shots,” Clements said. “He just told me to stop settling, go to the basket, draw fouls and be aggressive.”
In the second half, Clements was 8 of 9 from the floor and drew eight fouls that resulted in trips to the free-throw line. There, he went 13 of 20 for the game.
“He’s a very good player,” Craig coach Mike Miller said. “We talked about needing to play team defense. We didn’t do a very good job as a team of stepping in and taking away his penetration lanes.
“He’s a tough matchup for us.”
The Cougars (3-1, 2-1 Big Eight Conference) led 22-20 at halftime after holding West without a basket in the second quarter. Each team made just six buckets in a rugged first half.
Out of the break, however, Clements made all four of his third-quarter buckets in the paint and added two more at the stripe.
“I felt we were a step slow tonight,” Miller said. “We weren’t very crisp running our offense.
“We played hard, which we always want our guys to do, but our conference is going to be a grind.”
West led 40-39 midway through the fourth quarter when Clements went on an 8-0 personal run to all but put the game away.
During the sequence he: grabbed a rebound and then made a put-back layup; drove in for a hoop and foul off a Craig turnover; forced a turnover that turned into another layup; and went back to the line for a pair of free throws.
The Cougars forced the issue late defensively to draw back within three points, but the damage was done.
“It’s our Achilles heel right now, that we’ve had stretches where we really turn the ball over,” Miller said. “We get going too fast. And the other one is free throws.”
Craig missed 11 of them. Cougars senior guards Jerry Ngobi and Nolan Maresch scored 14 and 13 points, respectively.
They return to the court Thursday at Verona.