Cougars smother Homestead, will play for Optimist title
JANESVILLE--Kerry Storbakken and the Janesville Craig girls basketball team weren’t exactly impressed with how they opened last Saturday’s game against Madison Memorial.
On Friday, the Cougars responded with what will almost surely be their best start this season.
They didn’t allow a field goal for nearly 12 minutes, jumping out to a 29-point, first-half lead against Homestead on the way to a 73-41 victory. The Cougars will face Oregon—which beat Merrill 55-47—in the title game of the 2013 Optimist Classic at 7:45 p.m. tonight.
“We thought in the Memorial game we lacked a little intensity,” Storbakken, the Cougars head coach, said of a Big Eight victory almost a week earlier. “We talked about playing hard, playing with intensity, and I thought the girls came out and did that. And defensively, that’s where it starts.”
Craig’s full-court pressure defense smothered the Highlanders—who were without leading scorer Taylor McIlwraith—from the opening minutes.
The Cougars forced five first-quarter turnovers and allowed just five points—all of them coming from the free-throw stripe.
“We got some good turnovers, some run-outs,” Storbakken said. “I thought we moved the ball well again on offense and hit different shooters. All of that’s good.”
A 13-0 run to start the second half gave Craig a 34-5 lead when Homestead made its first basket, with 3:55 left in the first half.
McIlwaith averages more than 17 points per game for the Highlanders, who fell to just 5-2 overall. No other player on the team averages more than 7.5 points per game.
The Cougars shot just shy of 50 percent from the field in the first half and went 11 of 13 from the line to lead 47-15 at the break.
They improved to 6-0 at home this season, a mark that will be put to the test tonight against Oregon, the No. 8-ranked Division 2 team in the state. Oregon is led by 6-foot-1 senior forward Maddy Gits, who averages 18 points per game.
“We’ll have our hands full,” Storbakken said. “She’s going to Saint Louis for a free education, and she’s good. We don’t see too many 6-1, 6-2 girls that are that athletic. We’re looking forward to the challenge, though.”
CRAIG 73, HOMESTEAD 41
Homestead (41)—Covill, 4-0-8; Fochs, 1-1-3; Harmon, 3-3-9; Thomas, 6-3-15; Neilson, 1-2-5; Severson, 0-1-1. Totals: 15-10-41.
Craig (73)—Schumacher, 3-0-7; Cramer, 2-0-5; Stewart, 1-4-7; Hughes, 8-0-19; Pierson, 2-0-4; Slatter, 2-2-6; Calkins, 6-1-13; Schoenenberger, 2-2-6; Brittingham, 2-2-6. Totals: 28-11-73.
Homestead 5 10 12 14—41
Janesville Craig 21 26 13 13—73
Three-point goals—Homestead 1 (Neilson), Craig 6 (Schumacher, Cramer, Stewart, Hughes 3). Free throws missed—Homestead 9, Craig 6. Total fouls—Homestead 14, Craig 19.
• Monona Grove tops Parker--Monona Grove used a dominant first quarter to beat the Janesville Parker girls basketball team in the title game of the JustAgame Holiday Shootout on Friday.
The Silver Eagles, who improved to 6-0 and are ranked No. 2 in the state in Division 2, jumped out to a 12-point lead after the opening eight minutes and sprinted to a 54-32 victory.
Senior guard Alexa Kelsey scored a game-high 15 points for Monona Grove, which led 35-18 at halftime.
Junior Paige Smith paced the Vikings with 11.
Parker returns to the court Friday, hosting Sun Prairie in a Big Eight Conference game at 7:30 p.m.
MONONA GROVE 54, PARKER 32
Monona Grove (54)—Clary, 2-2-6; Mikalsen, 0-1-1; Anderson, 1-0-3; Ogden, 2-0-4; Merrill, 1-0-2; Kelsey, 5-1-15; Long, 4-2-10; Nelson, 3-7-13. Totals: 18-13-54.
Parker (32)—P. Foster, 1-0-2; Smith, 3-5-11; K. Foster, 0-1-1; Dubanowich, 3-1-7; Uhl, 3-0-6; McCulloch, 1-2-5. Totals: 11-9-32.
Monona Grove 22 13 12 7—54
Janesville Parker 10 8 6 8—32
Three-point goals—Monona Grove 2 (Anderson, Kelsey), Parker 1 (McCulloch). Free throws missed—Monona Grove 12, Parker 9. Total fouls—Monona Grove 19, Parker 17. Fouled out—K. Foster.