Craig tops Muskego to set up third crosstown showdown

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John Barry
Friday, March 7, 2014

JANESVILLE--Janesville Craig’s girls basketball team got caught looking ahead a little bit on Friday night.

The top-seeded Cougars were heavily favored against 1-22 Muskego, and they knew a win could potentially set up a third meeting this season with crosstown rival Janesville Parker.

Fortunately for Craig, it opened up a double-digit lead early and made 14 free throws in the fourth quarter to hold off the pesky Warriors, 46-35, in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal game.

Craig (19-4) hosts Parker (12-11) at 7 p.m. today. The Cougars swept the regular-season series with the Vikings.

Junior guard Al Hughes scored 18 points for Craig on Friday night, and senior Alli Calkins added 10 before fouling out.

The Cougars jumped out to a 14-2 lead but could not put the Warriors away until late. Muskego got as close as eight points in the fourth before Craig salted the victory away at the free-throw line.

“We were sluggish at times, no doubt about it,” Craig coach Kerry Storbakken said. “I don’t know if it was the eight-day layoff or the potential Parker game, but we just weren’t clicking most of the night.

“But they don’t give you anything for style points, either. It doesn’t matter if you win by 30 points or not. All you’re trying to do is get to 1-0 and then 2-0 tomorrow night.”

Hughes was her usual reliable self Friday. The point guard hit two 3-pointers early to push the lead to double digits, and she ended her night by going 6-for-7 from the line in the fourth.

Craig finished an impressive 22-for-25 at the line but struggled from the field. The Cougars, who led by 10 at half, were only 2-for-15 from the field in the third. Muskego was worse. The Warriors were 0-for-9 shooting in the third and trailed 30-17 heading into the fourth.

“Their kids played hard, and they’re a better ball team than their record would indicate,” Storbakken said of Muskego. “I thought overall, let’s just get to Saturday, and that’s what we did.”

The Cougars get the Vikings at home, where Storbakken knows his team will have to play better than it did Friday.

“The kids are excited, and it should be fun,” Storbakken said of tonight’s pivotal game. “This team has been resilient all season, and I think these girls will come out and play their best game of the season tomorrow night.”

“I don’t have to say much to them when it’s Parker/Craig. They know what’s at stake.”

Craig will not sell tickets in advance today. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the 7 o’clock tipoff.

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