Spurts key Cougars' regional win
JANESVILLE—Jerry Ngobi and the Janesville Craig seniors have been waiting for another crack at the WIAA tournament for nearly 12 months.
After coming up just short of making a trip to the sectional finals, the Cougars are hungry.
They took care of their first course on Friday night, topping Lake Geneva Badger 65-48 in a Division 1 regional semifinal game in their home gym.
“(The tournament) is all we thought about the whole summer,” said Ngobi, who led all scorers with 21 points. “That’s what we’ve worked for, and that’s what we’re thinking about right now.”
No. 3-seeded Craig moves on to face Beloit Memorial in a regional final tonight at 7 p.m. in Beloit. The No. 2-seeded Purple Knights escaped with a two-point victory over Muskego.
“They’re focused,” Craig coach Mike Miller said of his Cougars. “Winning this game was not a celebration. They’re focused on tomorrow.”
The Cougars won Friday thanks in part to a barrage of baskets to start each half.
They jumped out to a 9-0 lead to open the game but then began settling for outside jump shots.
Craig led by just two points after the first quarter, but it started feeding Ngobi in the high post, and he took the ball to the rim. Ngobi scored 11 points in the second quarter.
“That 2-3 zone, they really extended it out,” said Ngobi, who will play for UW-Whitewater next year. “As long as we got it inside, we could do damage. We have shooters, so we can kick it back out if we need to.”
The Cougars led by eight at halftime and stretched it to 18 midway through the third thanks to a 7-for-7 start from the field to open the half.
“The first half, our guards were a little stagnant,” Miller said. “We didn’t get penetration in the gaps to free people up. We did a better job of that after we talked about it, and then we went back into a little lull.”
Badger fought back to within 10 points at 56-46, but a 6-0 Craig spurt that included run-out layups by Ross Smith and James Morgan (13 points) put the game away for good.
Now the Cougars get another crack at Big Eight rival Beloit.
The two teams split in the regular season, with the road team winning both games. Beloit won the first meeting in Janesville in double-overtime, while Craig got up big in the second meeting but held on late to win by three.
CRAIG 65, BADGER 48
Badger (48)—Ashley, 2-0-5; Buntrock, 1-0-3; Kozlowski, 3-1-10; Sontag, 1-0-3; Berhorst, 3-0-8; Wieseman, 5-2-13; Gibson, 2-0-4; Compton, 1-0-2. Totals: 18-3-48.
Craig (65)—Payton, 1-2-5; Ngobi, 7-7-21; Maresch, 3-1-9; Murphy, 3-0-7; Morgan, 5-0-13; Smith, 2-0-4; Green, 1-0-2; Carlson, 2-0-4. Totals: 24-10-65.
Lake Geneva Badger 12 10 16 10—48
Janesville Craig 14 16 20 15—65
Three-point goals—Badger 9 (Ashley, Buntrock, Kozlowski 3, Sontag, Berhorst 2, Wieseman), Craig 6 (Payton, Maresch, Murphy, Morgan 3). Free throws missed—Badger 3, Craig 4. Total fouls—Badger 18, Craig 14.