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Xtra points: Can Cougars make a deep tourney run?

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Eric Schmoldt
February 13, 2014

It's hard to believe, but the final 10 days of the high school boys basketball season are already upon us.

Regional seeding meetings for the WIAA tournament will take place this weekend, and March Madness will hit the area before the third month of the year even arrives.

The Janesville Craig Cougars hope they are peaking at just the right time.

You see, no area team has been streakier than the Cougars. They won four games to open the season and then lost seven of their next eight. Since then, Craig has won five of its last six contests and is tied for third in the Big Eight Conference.

Craig head coach Mike Miller told me Wednesday that his team took its 3-6 start to the league season personally, and that has shown. The Cougars have successfully avenged three of those six losses during the second half of the league schedule, and they have three more chances still to come.

The Cougars have done it as a team, and they'll need to continue that down the stretch. Three players—Jerry Ngobi, Mike Murphy and Nolan Maresch—are averaging double figures scoring. Eight players average at least 4.8 points per game.

“They're playing together, moving the ball well and playing unselfish,” Miller told me. "They've also been defending better.

"I think we're playing pretty well. I hope we're peaking for the tournament. I think we've been pretty consistent the last five games."

That will all be tested in their final four games, which come against teams with above .500 records. You can catch Craig hosting Madison La Follette tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Craig gym.

The Cougars also still play at league-leading Madison Memorial, squeeze in a nonconference game at Stoughton, and close the regular season next Saturday against Middleton.

"We're taking it one at a time, but obviously every game is a big game for us right now," Miller said. "Its been more of a tournament type atmosphere."

The folks at Wissports.net released their first tournament projections on Tuesday, and they have Janesville Craig falling one victory shy of reaching the state tournament.

These next four games will help us know if the Cougars belong in that discussion.

The same can be said for other area boys teams, like Edgerton in Division 2, which hosts a surging East Troy team on Friday. I'm also intrigued by Parkview, which plays Division 3 teams most of the year but will drop to D4 for the tournament. The Vikings find themselves in a pretty tough region, however, so we'll see.

Either way, we're on the verge of the Madness truly beginning.

Some of this sound familiar?

You may have heard a portion of this blog post on WCLO 1230AM today. It's part of a new Tuesday/Thursday sports page feature. Be sure to tune in for local sports takes around 7:45 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday.



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